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'They Don't Want To Be Pitied': Watching Mayo V Dublin At The Big Tree

'They Don't Want To Be Pitied': Watching Mayo V Dublin At The Big Tree
Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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It's too much now. Hollywood has conditioned us into believing that we should have witnessed the catharsis by now and yet still it goes on. In defiance of all known laws of storytelling.

At this stage in the Mayo story, the immediate impulse of neutrals at the final whistle is to cast their eyes around and see how people are bearing up.

There was one lad standing about five yards from me who wasn't doing well. He cried like a Newcastle fan who just watched his team get relegated. Had there been cameras in the pub, they'd have zoomed in on him. His girlfriend spent the aftermath rubbing his neck sympathetically. Elsewhere, there were solemn and pained expressions. Some lads in Elvery's tops just looked bull-thick.

For many others, the impulse to mope around was outweighed by the determination to have a good night. A few girls in Mayo jerseys were smiling and posing for selfies a distastefully short time after the final whistle. Inappropriate behaviour for a wake.


The tent in the Big Tree was no venue for old men yesterday. No one over the age of 40 found the smoking area of the Dorset Street pub an appealing place to watch the replay. The crowd was made up entirely of people in their 20s and 30s and was about 75% Mayo.

That was made apparent by the reaction to Lee Keegan's goal. By far the loudest roar of the day, it sent beer flying into the air as hands containing plastic cups shot skyward.


As the game ticked towards a conclusion, it was obviously the husky voiced Dubs who were making most of the noise. There was a curious gender split. The solid majority of Mayo supporters, at least in that pub, were female, while the Dub support was much more male in composition.

One Dublin supporter, mistaking me for a Mayo fan due to my indifferent reaction to Dublin's scores, tapped me on the shoulder and shook his fist in my face after Aidan O'Shea was turned over in the second half. To his credit, he felt ashamed almost immediately and tapped me again saying sorry for "rubbing it in." He spent the remainder of the game ingratiating himself with me, making amiable and ostentatiously fair-minded comments about the match, even remarking that Mayo should have had a free at one point.

It's clear that Aidan O'Shea is a bit of bete noire for Dublin fans, a la Kieran Donaghy. Cries of "fuckin' prick" and "wanker" were audible whenever the camera zoomed in on him. And this was only among the ticketless standing in the smoking area of the Big Tree. Presumably, he gets a savage pasting up on the Hill.



The Dublin supporters were obviously relieved and contented at the final whistle but that air of delirium that accompanied the 2011 win has long gone. They're so used to winning now.

Fifteen minutes after the final whistle, the pilgrims who actually made it into Croker arrived back in the pub. They didn't hang around to hear Cluxton offering three cheers for Mayo and a good thing too because they weren't offered.

Despite all the reports of teary-eyed fans trudging up Clonliffe Road, there were few tears among those match-goers who landed back in the Big Tree.


You'd have to be impressed by their stoicism.

There was aggrieved discussion about the refereeing and, yes, there was annoyance and some bewilderment at the goalkeeping switch before the game.



One cluster of Mayo supporters near the open gate all stood around each other saying very little to one another, like relatives not knowing what to do with themselves in a hospital waiting room. That was the standard Mayo fan pose at about 7.30 yesterday evening. All but the most emotionally unintelligent neutral knew it wasn't the time to approach them and launch into a lecture about 'deserving having nothing to do with it'.

But there was also plenty of "ah, look, the better team won."

They're so practiced at this it's like they know to say all the right things. One older fella queuing for a piss outside the makeshift urinal just said, "I can't say I'm not very disappointed because I am disappointed. But that's life."


For all the despair among them, the Mayo supporters last night worked very hard at being philosophical and most pulled it off. You get the feeling the one thing they don't want is to be patronised or pitied.

Celebrity spotting. In Cleary's pub opposite Connolly Station - a regular hideout for Michael Collins in the War of Independence, a large part of the wall is now a shrine to him and the Tan War veterans - Balls bumped into Mick 'fuckin' Fitzpatrick (Eugene Maloney) of Hardy Bucks fame. As you can imagine, Balls was chuffed to bits with this and are pleased to report he was perfectly charming and not a bit consumed with self-pity. Like most Mayo fans last night.

Read more: John Casey Captured The Outright Desolation All Mayo People Feel On Midwest Radio



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