In the case of the senior team, I know that for the best part of an hour after the full-time whistle sounds at every inter-county match played at MacHale Park, it’s pretty much open season with the players as they’re invariably engulfed by hordes of young supporters seeking autographs, selfies and that kind of thing. I’m always struck by the unfailing politeness and good nature of the players when this happens – which, regardless of the result, it does for all matches played outside Croke Park – and how generous they are with their time.
This means that, unlike some other counties, the annual open night that Mayo GAA holds each year – which takes place this coming Friday (May 20th) – is merely an extension of the significant amount of outreach that already occurs on a routine basis. The open night is, though, a more structured and tailored event and it also provides the opportunity to meet with players, coaches and managers from both the senior football and senior hurling panels. With the hurlers’ Nicky Rackard Cup semi-final on the following afternoon away to Donegal it’s also a chance to wish them well ahead of that important fixture.
The open night takes place this year in Páirc Josie Munnelly, which is located right beside MacHale Park just behind the main stand. It runs from 6pm to 7pm this coming Friday evening. As well as mingling with players and backroom staff, you’ll be able to test your skills with the Mayo GAA coaches (which, in my case, would not be a pretty sight). Elverys will be there too, displaying all their latest official Mayo GAA merchandise. There’ll be music and free goodies to give away and the evening is also being used to launch the 2016 Mayo GAA Kellogg’s Cúl Camps.
As an aside, impressive and all as the senior players are in how they conduct themselves, the U21 lads are right up there too, as this piece in the Mayo News by Edwin McGreal confirms. What astonishing generosity of spirit both young men showed – fair play to them.
You can also support the lads via the Club and County Development draw. Tickets are available online – here.