Everyone loves a bit of nostalgia and thankfully we’ve been treated to plenty of magical moments over the years as Mayo supporters. So it is with no apologies at all that I’ve written a piece to get the nostalgic juices flowing – with a particular emphasis on some of the iconic scores which have stuck in the mind!
Excuse the (relative) recency bias – at the tender age of 34 I have seen only so much action. Remember these are just my two pennies’ worth as well. There are obviously PLENTY more to choose from and everyone will have their own personal favourites so feel free to throw them in on the blog comments below.
I’ve focused on three scores from three men playing for three Mayo teams at different stages of their development – with the obligatory Ciaran McDonald selection throw in, obviously.
Ciaran McDonald v Dublin – 2006 All-Ireland Semi-Final
The man, the myth and the maverick … in microcosm.
It’s easy to forget there was still plenty of time left that day (more than six minutes including injury time) for Dublin to find parity. Somehow though, with that wonderful wag of the finger you just knew it would be the final score on a crazy day in Croke Park.
The move began with McDonald deep in his own half looking for possession and, after collecting the ball from Andy Moran, he gave it straight off to Ger Brady. There followed a passage of play which saw Brady, Keith Higgins and Kevin O’Neill work the ball high up the pitch – McDonald all the while ghosting forward to everyone’s left before eventually collecting from Kevin O’Neill. The angle was as outrageous as the hairstyle at this point but McDonald cared little as he broke an untold number of hearts on the Hill with one swing of the left peg.
Since the news has emerged of John Morrison’s death this past week it has been striking to note exactly how many players from that 2006 team have been so vocal on Twitter in their praise of the man and his working methods – with positivity and innovation among the key phrases used. It may be no coincidence that McDonald was arguably at his swaggering best for the county team that year – with this particularly unforgettable moment possibly capturing that idea perfectly!
Kevin McLoughlin v Cork – 2011 All-Ireland Quarter-Final
If you were there for the (at times distressing) start of James Horan’s first era as senior manager in Ruislip back in May 2011, the idea of that team making it to Croke Park for an All-Ireland quarter-final will have seemed a little far-fetched. Indeed, even on the day Mayo’s general odds (around the 4/1 mark from memory) as they took on the reigning champions Cork were a fair indication of what the bookmakers thought would unfold.
You couldn’t call it the match-winner that day but there was something about Kevin McLoughlin’s swashbuckling run and emphatic finish that signalled a different vibe about the team. It smacked of a general self-confidence which lit the fuse for the following years under Horan’s leadership. The game was barely twenty minutes old when – with Cork leading 1-4 to 0-03 – Aidan O’Shea popped a hand-pass into a sprightly Kevin McLoughlin.
The Knockmore man still had a huge amount to do but he had only one thing on his mind as he engaged tunnel vision and drove through the heart of the Cork defence before finishing convincingly with the left boot. Mayo went on to take control of a match that had looked like getting away from them in the early stages and a new team had been born. It’s hard not to look back now at McLoughlin’s goal as the catalyst for something special.via ytCropper
Cillian O’Connor v Dublin – 2016 All-Ireland Final (first game)
The clock struck a barely believable 76:48 when Cillian O’Connor hit the equaliser in the 2016 All-Ireland Final – the last meaningful act on a surreal and dramatic day even by our own lofty standards. One own goal would have been unfortunate but two was downright careless and went a long way to undoing all the good work in that first 35 minutes where Mayo did so much to halt the vaunted Dublin forwards.
A short Tom Parsons burst through the middle didn’t appear too threatening for a Dublin team which were now largely camped in their own half. Parsons, O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea weaved a pattern of play which eventually gave the Mayo captain half a chance to work something. The Ballintubber native still had much to do but a jaw-dropping jink – shifting from left to right so quickly that Darren Daly literally didn’t know where to look – bought him the time he needed to send a sumptuous equaliser over the bar.
Defiance – particularly in the face of Dublin pressure and desperately bad luck – had become the core characteristic of the team at this point. Nothing summed that up better than O’Connor’s late heroics in the capital that day.
As I said at the top, there are other scores that merit inclusion in a shortlist of this kind. Restricting the choice to this threesome, however, which one would you pick as your own favourite? Let’s vote on it!
What's your favourite Mayo score?
- Ciaran McDonald v Dublin 2006 (72%, 452 Votes)
- Cillian O'Connor v Dublin 2016 (19%, 123 Votes)
- Kevin McLoughlin v Cork 2011 (9%, 57 Votes)
Total Voters: 632