Perspective from a downtrodden Mayo GAA fan: We’ll be back, we know no other way 7 years ago

Perspective from a downtrodden Mayo GAA fan: We’ll be back, we know no other way

The All-Ireland semi-final replay defeat to Dublin was another devastating disappointment, but you won't keep Mayo fans down for long.

Last Saturday was a tough one to take.


You’d think as a Mayo man that I’d be used to crushing defeat at this stage. I mean, I’ve been to seven All-Ireland Senior Finals and haven’t seen Mayo win once.

I was in the Hyde when Leitrim took the mother of all scalps in 1994 and I was in Limerick when Kerry finally put us to the sword after two epics last year. Like most Mayo supporters, I’ve seen my fair share of bad days.

All of them were gutting but there was something about the numb, empty sensation that followed the final whistle on Saturday that felt different. That felt worse.

Why? I still can’t quite put my finger on it.


GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final Replay, Croke Park, Dublin 5/9/2015 Mayo vs Dublin Worried Mayo fans during the second half Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Maybe it’s because there really is only so much heartbreak one can take. Maybe it’s because of the possibility that there can only be so many times this Mayo team can go to the well, come back thirsty and have the drive to go again.

Maybe, it’s because in 20 or 30 years’ time and with Mayo still waiting for an All-Ireland, we’ll look back and reflect that the 2011-2015 period really was our chance to land Sam and we blew it.

Whatever it is or was, it was different.


Normally in the aftermath of Mayo matches, I consume as much post-match reflection and analysis as I can get.

TV, radio, papers, podcasts, Twitter, you name it. Obviously, it’s easy to do it when you win, but I normally wouldn’t shy away from the post-mortem if we lost either.

But I didn’t want to hear it this time. I didn’t want to hear that there were some questionable decisions made on the line and that we left our defence brutally exposed again.

I didn’t want to hear Joe Brolly elaborate on why he called us ‘The Masters of Disaster’ or people say that if Lee Keegan had popped over that chance to put us five up early in the second half that we would have went on to win it.


I know all that but I didn't want to have to deal with it; there'll be plenty of time for that.

A lot of people I’ve talked to since the match seemed to feel the same way.

GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final Replay, Croke Park, Dublin 5/9/2015 Mayo vs Dublin Mayo's Diarmuid O'Connor after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Sure, the match has been discussed and there have even been some prophets of doom painting a bleak picture of the future, but it’s almost been tiptoed around in an effort to forget about it as soon as possible.

As for people from other counties, they nearly treat Mayo people as if there’s been a death in the family. They know you’re hurting and they don’t really know how to go about expressing their sympathy.


They say that it must be awful to be a Mayo supporter and have to go through that heartbreak over and over again.

And yeah, it's not easy, but it could be worse.

Look at it another way and there’s never been a better time to be a Mayo supporter.

Sure, we’ve lost a lot of finals but at least we’re getting to them.

After winning the last All-Ireland title in 1951, Mayo didn’t get to another one until 1989, and this at a time when there was no back door and only one victory stood between a provincial title and a place in the decider.

Mayo didn’t even win a Connacht title in the entirety of the 1970s. Can you imagine a period as barren as that now? We’re so used to Connacht titles now that we’re nearly taking them for granted.

Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Final, Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon 19/7/2015 Mayo vs Sligo Mayo's Keith Higgins lifts the Nestor Cup Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Yes, there have been some gut-wrenching days but there have been some incredible ones too. Donegal in 2013, Dublin in 2012, Cork in 2011, Dublin again in 2006. Great days, unforgettable days.

When you think about the buzz after big games like that, is it any wonder we come back for more? Are those good days worth the stomach-churning disappointment that inevitably follows? Glass half-empty people might suggest otherwise, but I say yes.

There’s a lot more to Mayo than the GAA and the county team but there’s a very visible uplift in the mood when we’re involved at the business end of the Championship and soon enough, we’ll be thinking of reliving those days all over again.

Some are way ahead of the rest of us...

It’ll be a long winter, but I’ve often heard it said by people in counties that win the All-Ireland that winter seemed shorter as a result.

I've never had the pleasure of experiencing it myself, but it often feels that way when Mayo are in the final or, in the last two years, as close as you could possibly get to it.

By the time the sorrows are drowned and the post-mortem is finished, you’re into October.

There’s usually a bit of club football to keep things ticking over and all of a sudden, it’s Christmas and the FBD and National Leagues are just around the corner.

Before we know it, celebrities will be seen hawking ‘Mayo for Sam 2016’ signs and we’ll be hooked all over again.

Mayo haven’t been able to lay claim to the title as the best team in Ireland in over half a century, but I’d defy anyone to find a set of supporters that can park a disappointment and return just as, if not even more optimistic, the following year.

Maybe we’ll win the big one next year, maybe we won’t.

But we’ll certainly be there backing them, every step of the way.