Mayo must take the scenic route to the holy grail for the second year in a row: they are back in qualifiers following defeat against Galway in the Connacht Championship.
While they ultimately navigated safe passage to Croke Park last year, and ultimately missed out on an All-Ireland by the narrowest margin in traditional anguished fashion. Last year they took care of Fermanagh, Kildare, and Westmeath in the back-door system before they could book their annual Croke Park agony.
They faced Derry in McHale Park this afternoon, with RTE analyst Joe Brolly wasting no time in writing off their chances of ending their existential quest for Sam before kickoff.
Speaking pitchside at the game today for RTE, Brolly wrote their epitaph, seemingly based on the intensity of the warm-up this afternoon.
I think Mayo are in a bad place. I was watching their warm-up and it was very lacklustre. I think that their Sam Maguire dream is over, and I think they feel that. It must be gutting for them. They have given us more entertainment than any other team. In the last ten years, they have been the most entertaining team in Irish sports. It's very difficult for them. They are in a very vulnerable place.
Former Mayo midfielder David Brady was alongside Brolly on the touchline, and he strongly disagreed with Brolly's assertion that Mayo were vulnerable:
If it was 12 months ago I'd have said they were in a vulnerable place, but I think they are in a very good place. Today is an opportunity to build their panel. the likes of Conor Loftus, Evan Regan: this is the ideal way to build a panel.
Spot on regarding today's result anyway, but a bit premature altogether.