This one’s not just for Christmas

I’ve been meaning to give this one another mention before now but I got sucked into the pre-Christmas vortex over the last few days and I’m only now starting to see a clear path towards the big day itself.  Better late than never, I guess.

I’d also planned to do a proper review of this ahead of Christmas – this being James Laffey’s book Will Galway Beat Mayo? – but all this running around over the past week and more means that I’m still working my way through it. Which, by the way, I’m quite happy to do, as this is a book that deserves to be consumed at a leisurely pace.

The core topic of the book is, as the title suggests, the 1960s rivalry between ourselves and the neighbours but its arc takes in way more than this. In footballing terms it starts way back in the Twenties, moving at a fair gallop through the decades until it reaches those shuddering clashes between the two counties in the Sixties.

Along the way, James stitches into his developing story many of the great characters – from both sides of the fence – of the era. One of James’ great attributes as a writer is his journalistic nose for a good story and, from the bit I’ve read so far, there are plenty of good yarns recounted between the covers here.

In collecting so many first-hand accounts, James has also performed a valuable service in preserving these voices for posterity. The sad passing recently of Joe Corcoran underscores this point, as Joe features extensively in the book and it was to James that the Ardnaree maestro gave his final interview.

The book also ranges well beyond football, touching on themes of rural depopulation and emigration, which loomed so large in those decades right across the west of Ireland. As such, it often reads as a social history of the times, one where big Gaelic football matches provides rare flashes of glamour and excitement.

Much of that period is brought vividly to life by the dozens of photographs the book includes, many of which are being published for the first time. It’s worth buying for the pictures alone.

Those of you still dashing around like headless chickens wondering what on earth you might get for the Mayo GAA nut who’s near and dear to you could do a whole load worse than picking up a copy of this cracking book. But, in truth, you don’t need an excuse like Christmas to go out and get it – anyone who is vaguely interested in the world of Mayo GAA should have a copy on their bookshelves.

“Will Galway Beat Mayo?” is available in all local bookshops in Mayo and Galway, as well as at Dubray on Grafton Street in Dublin and online at

10 thoughts on “This one’s not just for Christmas

  1. I am currently reading this book and so far it is proving a wonderful experience. Also the photographs are a treasure trove of memories and almost worth the price in itself Really looking forward to finishing it over Christmas.

  2. Really looking forward to reading this, but wouldn’t dare buy it yet as I’ve discovered it’s not the time of year to buy myself something like that. With a load of Mayo Gaa heads here , it might be under the tree.

  3. If you think some people are trying to start the new year on a negative note just wait until the football starts in January.and we are beaten in the FBD or National League game. Its the same every year. Some people trive on the negative slant of their lives. Stephen R gives a great interview sure but that’s neither here or there. The facts are Mayo played the best football ever in 2017 Best football I have seen in my time. Please acknowledge that Dublin our nemesis also improved over the same period. Almost every Mayo player has improved their personal performance under his management term. Of course they are going to continue to improve or die trying. They are all staying involved. Do you think Andy, Lee or Donie lack ambition for 2018. Continuous improvement is possible and feasible as long as you are willing to stay in the game. I am very positive about our chances in 2018, and I do not know of any reason to despair.

  4. Your right PJ , but suppose that people would be more positive if we saw new players coming through to strengthen the panel further . I will say this now in December that I really don’t care if we are relegated in the league if it means giving new / fringe players an opportunity .I know that it won’t be popular with some and I know their point re playing against top opposition but feck it , its Sam we are after .

  5. With all our Duck’s in a row, and Kevin Keane to take care of Damien Commer… Mayo will beat Galway (Without Willie Joe, of course both Willie Joe’s will be watching).. Remember Damien Commer hit two shoulders that took both Séamus O’Shea and Diarmuid O’Connor out of the game, last Summer…. Dublin’s favourite Ref Joe McQuillian. BIZZARLY ( saw both of the big hits as legal and actually awarded Galway a free on both occasions…We were to get to see more of Dublin Joe later on in the year, and as coincidence. would have it and several more BIZZARE decisions, or lack of decisions, Mayo again lost by a point… But back to Damien Commer, I I Don’t think that the genial Annaghadown man will try the same thing with Kevin Keane around next Summer….I got a Christmas Card from him yesterday with a €5 note in it to buy myself a pint…. I sent him a tenner… Anyways if any of ye haven’t yet posted yer Christmas Cards to Dublin Joe McQuillian, ye are all too late now… Peace and Good Will to all men, but no Christmas Card’s for Dublin Joe.

  6. I have a feeling this one is under the tree for me after a list of not so subtle hints =D

    Can’t wait to get stuck in. But I’ll wait til April, finish in May, the rock n roll into MacHale Park for the 13th!

  7. A very happy Christmas to you and family Willie Joe, thank you once again for the wonderful site,thank you to the posters and their views,hopefully next year will be ours

  8. I got the book last Monday and I’m halfway through it already. Absolutely fascinating reading. A good few instances of the clerical ban. I remember one priest who missed out with Galway In 1956 but he won a mayo intermediate medal in the 1960s. James. You missed that one Congrats James on a great book. happy Christmas to you Willie joe

  9. MayoMark . Think ya got your ‘D’ under the tree in Castlebar . Big lad to fit under !! At least Santa won’t have to travel far . haha

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