Aidan O’Shea can will himself to bend the shape and direction of this All-Ireland final in his favour. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

What can be said about an All-Ireland final involving my home county of Mayo? It felt like they had exhausted all storylines over the past decade but (...)

 Ciarán McDonald at  TEG Cusack Park, in Mullingar, for Mayo’s game against Westmeath in May. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Ciarán McDonald may have parted ways with his intercounty playing days in 2007, but within Mayo’s mind and soul he never really left. There was always(...)

James Horan: “We don’t see it as young and old at this stage. The guys are training together, whoever does well plays. That is where we are at.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

If the last thing James Horan could have imagined in his second coming as Mayo football manager was the prospect of all All-Ireland semi-final against(...)

Mayo’s Conor Loftus celebrates a goal against Galway in the recent league win at Tuam Stadium. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Mayo’s decision to play Conor Loftus at midfield is one of the most unusual since the return of intercounty football last month.  James Horan’s (...)

Former Waterford manager Derek McGrath, right,  with former selector Dan Shanahan. “If Dan wasn’t as diligent and as innovative as he was, that iconic status wears off in no time. But that never happened.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

On a Saturday night in Tralee a few years back, we arrived to the press box to find two seats were being kept for a couple of late arrivals. Just as t(...)

Wales’ scrumhalf  Mike Phillips celebrates as a dejected Paul O’Connell, Mike Ross and Cian Healy of Ireland look on at the final whistle of the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-final. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Eventually you make a pact with yourself. Enough of these dazed walks up Jones’ Road as the light declines. Sam Maguire winters in Kerry or Ulster. I(...)

Ireland vs Australia in 2006. Graham Geraghty of Ireland is driven to the ground by Danyle Pearce of Australia, a tackle which led to the Meath man being carried off. File photograph: Inpho

In the RTÉ studio during half-time Colm O’Rourke, who had managed Ireland to back-to-back series wins in 1998-99 said in aghast tones that he had just(...)

Roscommon’s Mark Miley celebrates his side’s All-Ireland minor final replay win over Kerry in 2006. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

In the summer of 2006 Roscommon crashed out of the championship, beaten 1-19 to 0-9 by Meath on a scorcher of a day in Navan. Cathal Cregg, with a ful(...)

Dublin’s Brian Fenton with Aidan O’Shea and Seamus O’Shea of Mayo at their All-Ireland SFC semi-final match at  Croke Park on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

I found myself in Dublin early on Saturday morning. It was a hectic week for Mayo supporters. The Super 8s did their job in the sense that the four be(...)

Former Offaly star Sean Lowry in action for Mayo: “Mayo always had that doubt. Behind that swagger there was doubt all the time.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Some blame the ‘curse’; others say it’s simply misfortune; many claim it’s a concoction of both, blended together through decades of heartbreak. It’s(...)

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