My grandfather was a gentleman and a great character. A sharp, dry wit, and for someone that never touched a drop of alcohol in his life, was the centre of attention at many a late night music session well into his nineties. He never really held more than a passing interest in football – his passions were cultural rather than sporting – but he was always finely tuned into the fortunes of the green and red.

I remember countless league Sunday afternoons, Mayo either featuring either on Mid-West or “Teilifís na Gaeilge” as it then was, when he would stroll in the back door and get settled into the armchair. Never a man to prevent a kettle from being boiled, he’d know the first question to be asked.

“Will you have a cup of tea?”

“I will surely. How are they doing?”

“Up by two.”

“Mighty!”

We could have been playing with a gale force breeze and ought to have been ten or twelve points further ahead. We could have been dicing with relegation due to results elsewhere. We could have been heading for the knock-out rounds. All that was irrelevant. Mayo were up and that was all that mattered. In-depth analysis wasn’t really called for. His enjoyment was in the game itself, not in the wider distractions. For a man that was 20 when Mayo won their first All-Ireland and 35 when they won their last, he could see the bigger picture and the futility of over-analysing the immediate.

I’ve thought of him a few times over the past couple of days as the build-up to the semi-final clash gathers pace. The column inches and airwaves already devoted to the game is extraordinary, verging on the bizarre. Whether it’s the unprecedented demand for tickets, Kevin Keane’s disciplinary hearing, Jim Gavin’s nudge and a wink to the referee, various fitness updates or the myriad number of opinion pieces on the key individual battles; the level of media coverage has been more akin to a final. This is all the more astounding considering it is the latter of the two semis, almost as if this weekend’s clash is an afterthought. A Kerry team barely considered at the penultimate stage of the tournament. I’m sure they’re distraught in the Kingdom.

Living in London, I wrote previously that all this coverage is meat and drink. A regular dose of championship hype to keep connected with the mood at home. But there’s a problem – I’m struggling to find a regular outlet for this overload of information. Processing such an intake requires two-way communication on a near-daily basis to generate a real championship buzz. And working in a large multinational company, I find myself in a minority of one with an interest in Gaelic games.

Water cooler conversations are dominated at the moment by England’s recapture of the Ashes, the start of the premier league campaign, or the approaching rugby world cup. Trying to get views on the merits of Lee Keegan man-marking Diarmuid Connolly is difficult. But nonetheless, I persevere. Allied to the Mayo crest tacked to my desk, I now have an image of Aidan O’Shea barrelling past the Donegal defence as the wallpaper on my desktop. It tends to draw attention whenever a colleague walks past.

Photo: Irish Times

“What’s that?”

“Oh it’s gaelic football. That was my home team winning the quarter final a few weeks ago.”

“Gaelic football. Is that a bit like rugby?”

“Well sort of, but it would have similarities with soccer as well.”

“You mean football?”

“Erm, well yes…just a different football. Think more like Australian rules.”

“Australian rules what?”

Know your audience I guess. And so for my own sanity, I’ve decided to take a lead from a wise man and not get too caught up in the analysis or the occasion this time. It’s a losing battle. No doubt I’ll still read everything, and I’ll still obviously be elated if they win, devastated if they lose. But on the whole, my focus will be on taking enjoyment from the day and appreciating what Mayo football means. A unifying factor for local communities, being based abroad it means even more. It’s now a connection with home and a source of community in London instead.

And I’m fortunately still close enough to Ireland that these marquee games offer a chance to meet up with friends and family. The morning of the game, the routines of the breakfast, the (proper) pints of Guinness and the chance to yet again visit the hallowed arena of Croke Park. Coaches often speak about players needing to enjoy the big occasions to be able to play to their potential. Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere for supporters also. This Mayo side have given us plenty of great days out in the past. I hope they enjoy the next one as much as I intend to.

## 56 thoughts on “Home thoughts from abroad”

1. hueyandlouis says:

Lovely piece .Fair play.Brings home that Football is often more than a game.It is an intrinsic part of who we are.No matter what else is wrong the sight of the green and red brings a balance and a happiness .

2. John Jennings says:

My cousin who was training in London to become a nurse . Used to fly home every Sunday morning in time for every single league and championship game that there was both home and away from 2004 to 2007 . She doesn’t do it anymore as she is fully qualified in nursing. However she will be flying into knock on Sunday week and hopefully staying until the third week in September.

3. KL says:

Thought we had left the stupid stuff behind us, unfortunately it seems not. AOS totally setting himself up for ridicule unless we win it now. I can already see the comments if we don’t ????

4. always mayo says:

Enjoyed reading this, lovely post. Mayo is who we are, a tribal thing maybe, some highs and lows but that’s all part of it for me anyway. Hurry up Sunday week. Up Mayo

5. Sean Burke says:

KL, because he had his hair styled a certain way ?

6. Team Sheet says:

Agree KL. …less attention the better. He gets enough without generating extra. We need to stay focused on job at hand.

7. GJC says:

Lovely song. God rest CTW. RP , might this be the time for a double, Mayo for Sam and Ireland for the rugby world cup? I’m tempted. Tomorrow will be very interesting, as forecast conditions don’t favour pre-game planning.

8. Juan says:

What has Aidan done?

9. AndyD says:

KL and Teamsheet,

What’s bothering you. AOS has done his stuff so far and, like everybody who has, is setting himself up, like anybody in any walk of life. That’s what makes the difference between men and boys. Only those who have done nothing and have no ambition to do anything can feel comfortable that they will not fail. Thankfully we have thirty plus young men in Mayo who are not planning to fail but who do not fear failure either. Only those who do not fear failure will succeed.

10. Therg2411 says:
11. Dave says:

Beautifully said Andy. They are a different breed and have no fear, a bit of tweaking during games on tactics and switches and they’ll be champions.

12. Team Sheet says:

AndyD. …let’s not lose the run of ourselves. While I agree that sport (&life) epitomises all of the virtues of Kiplings ‘IF’……It is after all only a game of football. There’s much more to life!

I for one love a bit of style and razzmatazz and am a big fan of Aido. However personally I feel….right now when we are looking more serious and purposeful than ever….The less attention we get for hairstyles/boots the better. Unfortunately in our modern world that kind of ‘news’ get too much weight.
…After all we have won nothing yet!

13. St Pats Oldie says:

Well said AndyD. KL andTeamsheet seriously? I take it that you found out about Aidans new bounce on Joe.ie it’s a pity you picked up on the hair do a nd not his choice of sporting hero. He picked Brian ODriscoll because “he stands up in key moments in games.”
Corn rows never held Ciaran Mc back????

14. Red raw rotten says:

We should all get corn rows for next week. C Mac should be an honary Maor Uisce and lead the warm up in front of the Hill.

15. Team Sheet says:

Ah now the serious lunatics are on 🙂
I’m on holidays so ill bite my tongue for the rest of the week.

…..when a cornrowed Mayo Man is under the Hogan with the holy grail. …I’ll gladly be the biggest hypocrite…..

16. always mayo says:

Dry up lads, if the entire mayo team decide to sport purple mohicans tutus and wellies for the match I for one will still be roaring them on. What’s wrong with having a bit of confidence in yourself and daring to be different…… up mayo

17. hueyandlouis says:

I and many others will judge Aido on how he plays not how he looks.It might not be the smartest move though.

18. Ultair says:

In solidarity with Aidan I will be shaving my head next week.

19. I can see the Dubs defence looking at him sayin “look at de bleedin’ head on dah” – hopefully to such a degree that it seriously affects their composure, fumble a few balls, and let Aido in for a couple of handy goals!!!

20. Juan says:

I think team sheet and KL have a point in fairness, however, that looks like a charity gig or something, like he popped in somewhere and was dared?? Would’nt say he’ll look like that against the dubs. Once he takes the over-rated Rory O Carroll to the cleaners he can wear what he likes 🙂

21. Joey says:

Juan … for a terrible moment there I thought you wanted him to take Rory O Carroll to the barbers ! When is this ‘Rufflegate’ era going to end?

22. In fairness its a mad haircut, good on him for having the balls to go for something like that!

23. Juan says:

Haha Joey, at least its taking the attention of kevin keanes appeal! Lot of rain up here in the capital last night, conditions would surely suit tyrone? Still think kerry by 5-7, but obviously hope tyrone beat them…twud be class!

24. hueyandlouis says:

Really surprised 36% of posters think.Tyrone will win.Were we playing them I would have been very vonfident.Kerry I think will win with as much to.spare as they want but knowing them theyll take the foot off the pedal when its won as they dont want to be over hyped given the destruction of Kildare.Rumour has it that Galvin is playing v well

25. Juan says:

Rumour also has it that moran is injured and sheehan will start instead.

26. Ultair says:

Tyrone impressive so far, they aren’t sitting back and waiting to the chase the game they have been sticking it to Kerry from the get-go while closing down Kerry’s main routes to goal. Kerry don’t like it when teams drag them into a dogfight, it’s all set up for a serious second half.

27. Declan says:

You have to beat 16 men to beat Kerry. If Mayo win the other semi the rhetoric for the 2 weeks up to the final needs to be about the continual reffing bias in game after game towards Kerry. It needs to be made clear from our management that this can’t be allowed to happen yet again against us.

28. lahan man says:

Today’s game shows that the team with the best players ultimately win out. They make the and exacute the right decisions most often. Kerry today and who will it be next week…..

29. A good game but the Tyrone goalkeeper lockouts and decision making was shocking he really cost Tyrone a lot today.kerry did what they had to do but Tyrone opened up there defence at ease and I thought it was a crazy decision for Kerry to take off David Moran with 15 min to go that when Tyrone came back into the game.introduction of geaney was a big difference for Kerry but to sum it up Kerry are very beatable

30. tonyk says:

Deegan to the rescue again!!!!!!

31. Backdoor Sam says:

I’m sickened Kerry won they looked very good today and will only get better

32. tonyk says:

Kerry won last year’s semi because of referee.
The beat cork this year because of referee
They won this year’s semi because of referee.

It’s shocking. This is an amateur game and is very unfair on young lads giving their lives up for their counties

33. Kerry won today because they were the best team. When Tyrone got level, Kerry went on and kicked 4 points. They deserved to win. I dont know if I will be on here during the week cause there will be all sorts of posts about HQ wanting a Dublin-Kerry final and everyone will be against us and the refs parents will have Dublin connections and Kerry are handed easy All-Irelands. Kerry looked beatable as there defence looked a little dodgy. A very nervous week ahead

34. catcol says:

Felt it was there for Tyrone.

Some decisions went against them, but the real killer were the unforced errors in the first and particularly the second half. Kickouts gifted Kerry at least 4 points. Goalkeeper then compounded things by poor kicks from frees which could have further damaged Kerry

35. 45 says:

Kerry still the best team in the country and getting better. They’ll be delighted with todays game – showing great character to get out the right side of a massive test….and with no major injuries or red cards.

36. Cait says:

Better get used to it as the ref will favour the big team sjust like Kerry today enwrite should have got black card too.

37. Juan says:

No shock there then. Kerry defence vulnerable to direct running. but no need to be worrying about them at this stage. All about the Dubs now. So hard to call it, massive challenge ahead for us.

38. Joe Mc says:

Ye are kind of missing the fact the Tyrone missed 3 easy goals.. Big, big deal!!

39. U have to give credit to Tyrone today.
They came out to play from the start.
Could’ve pulled it off but gave ball away at
crucial times.Was a case of Tyrone just didn’t have quite enough but more importantly, in the last 10 mins, Kerry took game by the scruff of the neck and scored 4 pts.
And in one instance, O Donohoe was on the floor again when he won a very soft free – don’t think he was even touched.
But best team won and as I said, great credit to Tyrone for a mighty effort.
This time next week, eh….
I wonder……
Cumin u boys in Green + Red!

40. regina says:

Don’t know how enright escaped a black card…as blatant as they come..Kerry are beatable..just remains to see who the honour of dethroning them will fall to..lets be honest even if are to get past Dublin the kingdom just have this little bit of lady luck on their side..they had it today, against cork and against us last year..how many bloody lives can one team have????????

41. Dave says:

Happy that Kerry are in the final. Now with a bit of luck we can get there too and repay them some of what we owe them. That can be discussed if we deliver a performance next Sunday.

42. facetheball says:

it was always going to be a close game. A reliable free taker let Tyone down. McCurry wont score that hard ones for you and the goalie missed one or two. Kerry lack the flair of previous kerry teams but they resilient and will be very hard beaten in the final.

43. Inbetweener says:

Composure and guile won game for Kerry…..on the pitch and off. A great game in the conditions . Congrats to both teams. I’d like to think we can do as well as either next week.

My felling is that we ll need whatever is going to tip the scales.

44. evergreenandred says:

Lovely blog. Thanks for that. And heres another thing Im glad about. Our

managers (so far) in the long grass.

I know the lads and Donie will do their talking in whispers into the lads ears.

Wheres your fucking pride!

Im feeling up up for this next w\end! In the meantime say nothing and keep

saying it. Regards; JL.

45. JPM says:

Kerry very good today. Didn’t panic and outscored Tyrone 0-10 to 1-04 in second half. Even after when Tyrone scored the penalty and the point after it Kerry showed their grit and determination not to be beaten and came right back with 2 good scores. I thought it was pretty impressive stuff.

46. mayomaningalway says:

Awh fucking hell the wait is killing me 🙁

47. Rambling Paddy I enjoyed your post so much. I have always enjoyed following this team. We have had so many good days in Croke Park that I now associate these trips with long summer days and sun shine. I do not buy into the SAM or bust mentality. It would be lovely to win one especially for this fine group of players. But enjoying the journey is very important in fact it is just as important. I feel we could be up against it on Sunday, but that feeling just adds a whole pile to the occasion. My advice would be to enjoy these days first. every tackle and kick of the ball. Be gracious and grateful while wearing your county colours.

48. SixPointsUp says:

Tyrone showed how Kerry can be beaten and neither Mayo or Dublin will have sleepless nights about the final, which ever wins next week. From a Mayo point of view, the Kerry harrying of the Tyrone kickouts and the pressure on the backs payed off big time in the second half, we’ll have to do the same to Cluxton.

49. This is going to be a long week. Can’t wait for Sunday. Kerry will have to wait for what”s long overdue. The Dubs stand in our way. We will not be denied our “Retribution”.

I believe now more than ever.

“Come on Mayo!”

50. Joe says:

Tyrone blew a wonderful opportunity today to beat Kerry mainly down to poor kick outs and poor choices in front of goal where they could easily have had 3 goals.
As for Kerry,there must be a worry about the form from their full forwards and Enright got lucky once again in a semi-final.

Dangerous to write-off but there are plenty of flaws in the Kerry set up that either ourselves(hopefully)or the Dubs can exploit.

51. AndyD says:

Did my ears deceive me or did I hear the commentator today say that if Enright had got a black card he would have missed the final? Not sure as I was watching in a pub and it was hard to hear. If so, I hope we might get the same indulgence next week if we need it.

One other thing bothers me – what are Kerry doing with Tommy Walsh? Don’t tell me he isn’t good enough to make to first 20. We saw his fielding in the few minutes he got against Kildare and I think that was all the championship football he got this year. And if injury was bothering him he would not have been introduced at that time in that game.

52. Mac's left boot says:

Jeez I hate kerry. Can’t understand how any Mayo person could support them – I mean I don’t like Tyrone either but come on – Mayo fans shouting for kerry today are suffering from Stockholm syndrome!
Surely their luck with the favourable reffing will run out. They got rode again today.
Anyone else see Marc o se reaction almost getting away with the black card today? Looked at deegan as if to say – “who the f do you think you are sending me off? I’m Marc o se!” Just hate the media agenda that kerry are the purists. They are just as cynical as the best of them.

53. Cait says:

Hoping for Mayo win but I feel the dubs are strong for Mayo at the moment o Connor is due a good game and how many times did we beat them with Gavin in charge not much.

54. Sean burke says:

Excited and nervous as hell , how long is this week goin to be . Hope to frig I have to work overtime every evening this week . Honestly anyone else just feel if we can get this win , we could actually win the Sam Maguire for real ? Id be confident winners will take Kerry .

55. east cork exile says:

If we win and play Kerry, to answer the Tommy Walsh question asked above, watch him play in front of Aidan O’Shea. you heard it hear first

56. macs left boot I am giggling like a child here, Stockholm syndrome is right.
in fairness any time I feel like cheering for kerry i just have to look at Donaghy or Walsh and the mood quickly passes