“The tears of your children will be the laughter of mine” – the Mayo v Galway rivalry explained

You could wax lyrical about what the rivalry between Mayo and Galway is and I have done this in the past for this blog.

But nothing sums it up better than what I was told in a pub in Liverpool at the start of this year, when the next game on the horizon was a crucial League relegation battle for Mayo in Tuam or Pearse Stadium.

Myself and a very good friend of mine, Eoghan, who I’ve known for over a decade and share very good memories with, are drinking with a gang of lads in a pub which we coined HQ – The Richmond Pub on Williamson Street, a sort of base of ours when we fly to the land of the Scousers and we do frequently. 

They say you should never discuss politics when you’re drinking with your friends or even at all and football should be added to that list too. 

I’ve spoken about Eoghan before on the blog. He grew up in Clonbur, a man born so close to the Mayo border but who couldn’t distance himself further away from the county. 

He has a hatred for Mayo that runs deeper than the roots of the oldest of trees. I had the misfortune of asking him, jokingly, if he would wish an All-Ireland for Mayo if it meant bringing joy to me and his other close Mayo friends. 

Eoghan placed down his pint of Carling on the table where we sat, words passionately begin to flow from his maroon-mad mouth, forming sentences that William Shakespeare could only wish he had used in a sonnet.

We were both drunk so I don’t remember exactly what was said. I know drunken minds speak sober words and he’d have no problem repeating any of this to me in the cold light of day either!

But I do remember the last thing he said before immediately reverting back to whatever we had been talking about before we were at loggerheads.

He spoke of the joy it had given him over the years not seeing Mayo win an All-Ireland and how he wished that they never would, before uttering a play of words on a famous Bobby Sands quote.

Addressing my future kids watching Mayo lose in All-Ireland finals in years to come, he said: 

“The tears of your children will be the laughter of mine”.

I was speechless and while I was left stuck for words, he just goes “Carling?”, and I think my mouth was still open by the time he came back with the drink. 

Me and him have promised to issue no low blows or uncalled for comments before, during or after this game. It’ll be painful enough for whoever the losing party is without it – just knowing you have the bragging rights for another year. 

My missus comes from a similar background filled with pure hate for Mayo football that has only eased in the household since we started going out. But it never goes away. 

There’ll be digs all this week and over the weekend in the lead-up to the game and one or two remarks on Sunday night and Monday that’ll probably leave us frosty for a day or two before half-arsed congratulations are thrown out to the winners. 

And before anyone says that the hatred has gone away from me, by hell it hasn’t. You talk about euphoria, nothing beats the feeling of beating Galway especially in their own patch. That feeling and sense of footballing order had escaped me for years during the golden Mayo period of 2011-2015.

Galway weren’t rivals anymore back then, they were just a child that you put to bed before worrying about actual proper work that faced you in the weeks ahead. And then they started making a mockery of our fortress, coming down to MacHale Park and beating us again and again. 

It’s one thing to be knocked out of Connacht, it’s one thing to be knocked out by Galway, but to lose to them at home and watch them march onto Connacht finals? That doesn’t and shouldn’t sit well ever.

We were riding on a crest of a wave when we came crashing down in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Only one score separated us in each of those games whether it be a point or a goal. They showed no respect to and didn’t fear the second best team in the country and had no problem throwing us on our arse and letting us know about it. 

Because similar to John O’Mahony’s team of 98, they were bitter about Mayo’s success – let’s knock these f****** off their perch if you will. And despite our runs in the Championship, they did and have. No Connacht title in five years and no win over them until last year.

And it was that tense game in Limerick where I really remembered the feeling of what beating Galway was like. I went with herself and we sat side-by-side. 

My bum came off the seat more and more as James Carr weaved his way through a sea of Maroon and by the time he had clattered the net I was standing up and sprawled across our two seats.

As I flipped my seat back into position, I was met with a rolled-up programme that was pointing at my neck like a robber holding a shopkeeper at knifepoint. 

I had so much built-up excitement that I couldn’t wait to let out at full-time. I waited until she was out of sight before I wheeled away in celebration – similar to when Del Boy and Rodney discover their old watch is worth £6.2m and they count down from three before losing the plot.

Before lockdown I bought an 80s Mayo Jersey from a great website called Órga Retrowear. I’ve worn it in the house every game we’ve played so far in this ‘new’ season. Three wins and one loss, I still don’t know whether it’s good luck or not but I will don it once again on Sunday. 

It’s tight enough fit though and wouldn’t suit the normal beer belly I would have if pubs were open but at the moment, it doesn’t look half bad on me! 

The last outing the jersey got wasn’t as tense as I thought it would. Roscommon never got out of the blocks, they never lived up to the hype and the expectation that they could be one of the top four teams in Ireland. They didn’t lay a hand on Mayo, never looked like they could pull the early deficit back. 

As a result, we played out the whole game in second gear once we started pulling away but we’d still recorded some great stats by full-time.

Another clean sheet for the ‘keeper and his back 6, another impressive display by the youngsters who really proved that they are looking to cement their place in this team for the next decade and, as for Cillian O’Connor, he looked like a man who could really prove the difference on Sunday.

A born leader who this year has notched up 2-18 in total – half from placed balls and the other half from play. He’s really turning back the years and is still only 28! In a game that goes into the melting pot, he’s the perfect example of who you want in your team as he’s showed us for years on end.

Andy Moran described him as Mayo’s most underrated player, that he instantaneously changed the squad when he was introduced as London were minutes away from knocking Mayo out in 2011.

And he wouldn’t be afraid to channel his inner David Brady, a reference I’ll explain in a bit, to show his marker what’s what, something that’s badly needed in a tense rivalry game.  

I’ve been excited about this game since the full-time whistle went on Sunday. The build-up has been the same as always. Buy the Mayo News, the Western People, listen to the Mayo News football podcast and Off The Ball and the GAA Hour and soak up as many previews and predictions as possible before the time for talking is over.

But my favourite had to be RTÉ’s Scannal programme which highlighted the infamous Meath v Mayo final replay in 1996.  Without winding the tale on that one, one thing I noticed during one of the flashbacks was how David Brady dealt with his marker.

I posted the video on Twitter. Here it is:

I got such a laugh out of it but I can’t imagine his opposing number was giggling as much on the day. You can only imagine the amount of times Brady would have done that to Kevin Walsh, Joe Bergin or Michael Donnellan in a Connacht final. 

You’d hope to see a few nibbles like this on Sunday but one thing you won’t see but you’ll miss on Sunday is the roar of a full Pearse Stadium coming from both sets of supporters when the scores go flying over.

I don’t believe the “Galway are unprepared” or “we’ve already hammered them in the League.” And don’t get me wrong I would love to be proved wrong. 

But in my opinion, Galway are one of the best teams in Ireland. They are in the top eight in a normal season, are currently in the top five and a win on Sunday would see them launch into the big four. 

Padraic Joyce is going to have them at match sharpness come Sunday regardless of game time. Similar to O’Mahony in 1998, he’s going to remind them day-in, day-out of Mayo’s scorching of their arses and use it as firepower. 

If I was a betting man, I’d even go as far as saying that it could be the first game to go to extra-time and penalties in what would be the cruelest of ends for the losing team. 

But I hope it doesn’t come to that. We have the firepower to beat them and to in fact blow them off the pitch, but that’s if they don’t show up. 

If they do show up, they’re going to play exactly like how we play. Strong, attack-minded, hunting for goal chances and they’ll be fronted by a fit Shane Walsh raring to go who. I believe he’ll be Keegan’s problem for the day and that’s the last man Walsh is going to want to see coming up shaking his hand. 

It’s a hard one to call – I’m going with Mayo by 1-3 points but as I said, I wouldn’t be surprised if lads were placing balls on the spot after 90 minutes.

Either way, someone’s tears are going to produce someone else’s laughter on Sunday. I pray God it’s another day of smiles for Mayo.

29 thoughts on ““The tears of your children will be the laughter of mine” – the Mayo v Galway rivalry explained

  1. I agree WJ, whereas the rossies were like the annoyance of a terrier running around your ankles, galway always invoked thoughts of pure hatred!
    I still cannot forgive myself for having a momentary feeling of sorrow for them when we wiped the ground with them in salthill around ’13.
    I even hate westmeath because they wear the same colour jersey.
    I often wonder how the beautiful city of Galway evolved in such a shit hole of a county.
    UP MAYO!

  2. I work in a rural part of Galway. I travel up there 4 days a week. People ask me where I’m from and when I say Mayo, the eyes narrow. Man, woman, child and beast. They are all the same. The hatred for Mayo will never cease with Galway. They detest our unwavering support for our team. They loathe us for even claiming Joe Biden. They are hurting after the beating we gave them in the league. It warms my soul to know how disgusted they felt after we hammered them.
    You can bet your life that Sunday will be helter skelter and the Galway players hurt from the league will spur them on. However having just watched the league game on the sky planner earlier I can’t see how they will stop us unless they go ultra defensive. That’s not the Paraig Joyce way but they will need to seriously tighten up at the back.
    Match ups will be key on sunday but I think it will come down to hunger, desire and intensity at the end of the day. I’m confident about Sunday after our last 4 games. There’s a never say die attitude about this crop. We will keep going to the end and die with our boots on. Thats what a James horan team does. Gives everything. I predict mayo by 4. Up Mayo.

  3. Don’t detect much rancour in Galway City but no doubt as ye approach the border it ramps up. Galway would be my 2nd team if Mayo knocked out out first but that hasn’t happened much this decade. I detect more hatred coming from the Rossies.
    As for the game, we’re battle hardened (which could help) but the mileage is creeping up so would be happy with a 1 point win. The other week counts for nothing.
    Would like us to start well and play a new midfield as we’re going to get found out there soon if we don’t change the personnel. Ruane too fond of traffic and Loftus though playing well isn’t tall enough and Rossies caught a lot of clean ball. I’d drop Ruane and let Diarmaid OC play there freeing up a forward space. Also think Aido should come out especially in winter when his power wins more dirty ball. I think we can win because Galway have some problems with injuries but we might have to freshen it a bit ourselves more both starting and from the bench.
    As for marking Conroy, I think Coen is best suited. None of our other backs bar Mullen are tall enough. I also think we’ll need more than 50% of the ball as some of their forwards can hurt us.

  4. Hate losing to them, but seriously without opposition there would be no games…I went to 3 All Ireland finals that Galway played in, and supported them in all 3…1983, Galway V The 12 Apostles , My buddy and me went on the train from Castlebar, even had a Maroon and White flag we had made first All Ireland final I was at… Went into the canal end, paid, wait for it ..the princely sum of £1 each for an ticket ‘under 12’..we werent under 12 but we got away with it….After serious congestion with the crowds every other All Ireland final since has been all tickets affairs, but in 1983 you could buy a ticket for the terrace on the day…The 2000 replay in the Galway V Kerry… and the 2001 Padraig Joyce tour de force versus Meath… But the gloves will be off on Sunday next, and the telly will get an awful bollicking if Mayo don’t win!

  5. Jesus, I think ye are going mad with this hatred of Galway, beating Galway on Sunday should not be the ultimate goal, of course it must be done in order to progress.
    Mayo have yet to win an All Ireland in most of our lifetimes, this is the real goal but the Dubs stand in the way of this, I wish ye would the Dubs in the same light, they beat Mayo in 3 finals this past few years.
    Can I ask have all Counties received funding this year from Croker as part of the Covid19 deal and I wonder did this come with conditions, ie that semis and final be played in Croke Park.
    I would love to hear people’s views on this.

  6. Some of this stuff is cringe. I have relations in Mayo, I went to secondary school with some Mayo lads, went to NUIG and played ball, drank, “studied” with Mayo lads. I travelled with Mayo lads and have worked with Mayo people. There was no narrowing of eyes, hatred or anybody detesting anybody else. There was a bit of banter alright, no worse than between townies and connemara people. This isn’t Celtic and Rangers lads.

  7. Lads, ease off a small bit. This is sport. Have the banter. We all want Mayo to win – but its not life and death.
    Up Mayo where ever you go.
    Galway people are like ourselves – 99% are dead sound – and like ourselves its the 1% that let us and them down.

  8. This is all a bit silly. This no more explains the Mayo-Galway rivalry than Tom and Jerry explains the rivalry between cats and mice.

    I don’t know why anyone would wants to be friends with the kind of neanderthal who revels in the tears of children but sure whatever.

  9. Make no mistake, will be delighted if we win on Sunday. It’s been too long since 2015. There’s joy in getting one over on your neighbours. But I was delighted when they won the all-Ireland in 1998, after a long Connaught wait, and more recently in hurling as well. If they win, I’d be backing them vs Cork, Donegal or the Dubs.

  10. I think some of the post may not get the point across properly. The “hatred” of mayo by galway fans or vice versa is mostly just banter or bragging rights and does not affect friendship. I played another code across the border and made great friends but whenever this game arose any of them interested in gaa hated seeing mayo win. Like earlier poster I also attended galway finals and Joyce 2nd half in 2001 was a privilege to watch. Normally I be pessimistic coming into these games but I think we’ll have more than 5pts to spare.

  11. Hi, This is a bit ott. None of us are angels. In fact I always feel sorry for the kids of any team that lose.
    Not that I don’t remember Purcell and Stockwell after all this time.

  12. I find this a bit “off” to be honest and I usually like Darragh’s posts. I support Galway in hurling too – I was delighted for Joe Canning and all when they won the recent All Ireland. It was a win for the west. Cannot call Sunday – it is going to be a battle. Please let their be no early goals, no injuries and no red cards for us.

  13. Hi Pj, your comments were in reasonably good taste, I think. Maybe, WJ. will be putting up the team news soon.

  14. That’s not what bobby sands said for a start and takes on a polar opposite in context “ the laughter of our children will be our revenge “ ie when we become a peaceful land free of tyrannical occupation ,a land of fairness and equality.

  15. Hatred is too strong a word as it appears to suggest an animosity outside the realm of the Gaelic football matches. There is a bitterness there but its purely a football one. I would be very very surprised for any Galway person to have any “hatred” for Mayo outside of the matches same for Tipp in the Hurling. I “hate” them in the Hurling but outside of that I admire the county and its people the same as all other counties in Ireland.
    Mayo’s great albatross is the failure to win the All-Ireland in 70 years. To the opposing football fan that’s manna from heaven to bate Mayo fans with until ye win it. Galway won in my lifetime twice and in the previous generation 3 times in the 1960’s. It could be said until Mayo make some inroads into that record there is only one team in Connaught.

  16. I’d say as a bit of craic and to get the excitement levels up it’s a nice story and tension being referred to should seen through the lens of the sporting drama between the counties. All square on provincial titles adds another bit of spice as well.

    We’re clearly blessed with great posters from other counties here with Galway in particular (have always enjoyed reading your posts Tuamstar) and we couldn’t be asking for anything more going into this weekend.

    That said, would love to see our lads hand out another pasting, just so we dodge the standard heart attack in the final minutes!

  17. PJ .We will have to go full hog at this Galway team from the beginning to the end .By the way when I told John Regan from Kiltimagh that I was writing on this blog he said to say hello to you

  18. I was unfortunate enough to have been born in Galway, a decision I had no involvement in and a fact that my father reminds me regularly of!

    With all due respect to Roscommon (cough, cough), Mayo v Galway is the big sporting rivalry in the west and with that comes a depth of feeling that is unmatched. But as many other posters have alluded to, for most people it is a seventy-minute phenomenon; the two warring tribes have much more in common than what separates them in reality. Like a lot of people, I would wish Galway well in the hurling championship and in football if we have gone out before them.

    They will be chomping at the bit for this one though, given the whuppin’ we gave them in the league recently. I would be a bit concerned by our recent tendency to concede a lot of marks from the kickout in this regard, and Shane Walsh would also be a big addition for them, if he proves fit. Comer is a big loss to them, mind you.

    We need to get the match-ups right and win a decent percentage of the breaks in midfield; it’s there for the taking if we manage those two things.

    Also, Aido caused wreck at the edge of the square last time out; Sean Andy looked like he was trying to swim through treacle! It’s definitely an idea to bomb a few balls into him early on.

  19. Also, no offense to Darragh, but if his mate is quoting Bobby Sands in reference to the Mayo-Galway football rivalry then he needs to have a word with himself.

  20. All this talk of hatred is ridiculous and the tears of children. Give me a break! You come across the odd eejit who need to cop themselves on a get a life. It’s a game of football at the end of the day and we have 46 titles each so nobody should be getting carried away. We have several decent Galway football posters on here and I would like to apologise to them for some of the comments they have had to read on here.

  21. Pj that “shit hole” bit at the end of your initial comment doesn’t reflect well on you lad.
    Ah but sure you were “only messin” I suppose?
    Seriously man get a life.

  22. A load sh….bout mayo galway hated , healthy rivalry, not an inch given always was n will…

    I have great galway friends but enjoy bateing them ad much as they do us……….

  23. I like to read the comments on here before the local Galway v Mayo derby. I’m from Galway and of course I want them to win. Honestly though lads, some people on here need to get some perspective. This is a football match and banter and craic are to be welcomed.
    The first comment on this blog post is pathetic and PJ you should be kind of ashamed. It sounds more like it’s coming from a place of bitterness that your rivals have loved something that you have not. Irrespective, there’s no need to bring non-footballing factors into it and insult in a very general manner.
    Good luck to Mayo tomorrow but of course I will be shouting for Galway 🙂

  24. In my experience Galway people always support Mayo in games outside Connacht – likewise Roscommon people, many of whom feel that we in Mayo don’t always reciprocate. I’ll admit we got tired of Galway winning Sam back in the 1960s and one great memory is the day we defeated Galway in the Connacht semi-final in Pearse St in 1967. I had my Mayo flag snatched out of my hand as we walked out afterwards – a small price to pay. Let’s relive that 1967 euphoria today! Up Mayo.

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