Wednesday, June 22, 2011

There's Nothing a Mayoman Loves More than Losing to Galway

Mayo is luckier than other counties. Not only do we enjoy natural beauty of mountain, beach and oilfield – conveniently minded for us by our multinational friends in return for a box of beads and one mirror, slightly cracked – but we are also blessed by being able to get beaten by Galway every second year in the Championship.

There’s nothing we in Mayo enjoy more than getting up early on Sunday morning, ating the breakfast that’s been cooking on the hob since last night, into the match gear and then off to Galway or Castlebar to have an apple stuffed in the gob, a skewer shoved where the sun seldom shines and get roasted and served up with mashed potatoes and green beans by P Joyce, J Fallon or M McDonagh as appropriate.

It’s a relationship that the media understand well. They know that there’s only one team in Connacht really. Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim are grand for holiday homes. Mayo are just depressing, seeing them huffing and puffing and doing their best to almost, nearly, kinda win an All-Ireland, only to find some other way to munson it up before collapsing in crying, wailing heaps on high stools up and down Dorset Street, Dublins 1 and 7.

But Galway. Now there’s a team you can look up to. See, Galway don’t munson it up in Croker. Galway turn up like the aristocrats they are. Pointy shoes and expensive trainers peep out from under their flared jeans, as opposed to the plain black brogues of the unreconstructed bogger.

Galwaymen know how to lay a table and don’t drink their tay from the saucer. They have women like the Seoige sisters on their arms, with their irresistible “is that a copy of the Christian Brothers Irish Grammar in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?” appeal. And when Galway do lose, hey, it’s no biggie. They go racing or ating oysters or watching plays or mime artists or the Lord God knows what. As opposed to sitting there sobbing one minute and being in murderous fury the next at the horrific, scalding injustice of it all.

It’s one of the pleasures of my life to have witnessed Galway’s resurrection in the ‘nineties, from the days when you had about a dozen turning up for training as they worked through the horrors of their 1983 choke-job.

There isn’t a Mayo man or woman whose heart didn’t sing with joy when Galway cancelled Mayo’s summer in May 25th, 1998. Oh happy day, we all said to each other leaving the ground, good old Galway will be able to build on the Maughan revolution to pox an All-Ireland against Carlow or Waterford or Kildare or someplace like that. It was such a weight off our minds.

And that’s why we’re looking forward to Sunday so much. Having seen off the appalling Tommy Lyons vista and dodged a series of bullets in London, nothing could be more wonderful this weekend for Mayo than for Galway, under yet another visiting manager, to magically weave the callow Under 21s and the wily veterans, none wilier than An Seoigeach himself, into yet another team that will storm their way to glory. Boy oh boy. I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t bloody wait.