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Are Mayo Mentally Weak Or Actually The Most Resolute Team In The Country?

Are Mayo Mentally Weak Or Actually The Most Resolute Team In The Country?
Gavin Cooney
By Gavin Cooney
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So what's the answer?

First, let's try to illustrate Mayo's relationship with football.

It's a manic-depressive relationship, that has teetered toward depressive more or less every summer since 1951. The Connacht Final of 1982 is an illustrative example. After a 3-17 to 0-10 defeat to Galway in the Connacht final, The Connaught Telegraph left a blank space where the team photo was slated, "to save us from further embarrassment". The headline was the by-now familiar refrain: "Mayo - God Help Us".

This current Mayo team have not been spurned with such fervour - their support is phenomenal - but they can empathise with the agony. Last year, they played one of the greatest teams of all time, and lost by point after a replay. They are the first team in All-Ireland final history to outscore the opposition and not win the game. Two own goals...in a single half!

To respond to such absurd misfortune is a testament to Mayo's character. And now they've chugged their way back to Croke Park, having been re-routed via the gauntlet for a second year in a row.

So that, objectively, shows a decent level of mental resolve on Mayo's part. But they have peppered a couple of qualifiers with behaviour consistent with that of bottlers. The Derry game, for example, showed a collective loss of nerve in front of goal. They missed 25 scoring chances in normal time, and in a 27-minute spell stretching across much of the second half, they scored a single point from 16 attempts.

And then, when they seemingly had the game won through Conor Loftus' goal, they conceded a goal immediately to send the game to extra-time. But from there, Mayo finished the game off professionally, kicking 1-9 to eventually win the game by eleven points.


The loss of composure in front of goal against Derry seemed a mental issue, because they corrected it against Cork last night:

Yet last night witnessed another wobble: Mayo led by seven points at one stage at the Gaelic Grounds, yet had to go the distance of extra-time to squeeze into Croke Park by the smallest of margins. For all of their practical failings - the Mayo full-back line were very vulnerable when they were run at - they lost their cool, too: the equalising free was brought forward for pointless indiscipline, while in extra-time, attempts to kill the game almost backfired: see Alan Dillon sending a raking line-ball directly to a Cork player as the clock ticked red.

Yet in spite of it all, Mayo did enough. And that's what they usually do: it's as if they are conditioned to play every game as if there will only be a score in the game at the end, that for all they've been through over the last few decades, they will never get anything easily.


And for all the absurd melodrama, they will generally beat the teams that they are expected to beat, and lose to the couple of sides that are better than them. And they are sufficiently resilient to hang tough in those games:

So to address the question: Mayo are generally pretty tough in the sense that they beat the sides they should and hang in well against the sides that the lose, with their way of doing so owing often to nerves frayed over decades of hurt, misery, and disappointment.

So let's give Mayo the benefit of the doubt: they are carrying a heavier burden than anyone else.


See Also: "Cut The Shit" - Cork Star's Message After Heroic Defeat To Mayo



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