After 10 consecutive finals in Croke Park without a win, Mayo finally got over the hump today in the league decider victory over Kerry. While it was a closely fought game until the closing stages, the truth of the matter is that James Horan's side were by far the better team.
They outfought an inexperienced Kerry side, especially in the middle third. For a county that has had the sustained success like Mayo has had, it is remarkable that this was their first league title since 2001. With their Croke Park hoodoo finally put to an end, could they walk up the Hogan Stand steps once again in September?
Speaking on Allianz League Sunday on RTÉ, Ciaran Whelan said that this one could finally give them the boost to go all the in the All-Ireland series this summer.
"It's a psychological shot in the arm" - Ciaran Whelan on whether Mayo's league win can be a springboard for later in the summer pic.twitter.com/sOmGXvpAle
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) March 31, 2019
It's a psychological shot in the arm, it's huge for them. To have had so many bad days in Croke Park, to experience that feeling in the stadium with all of the crowd there, the buzz for them going back to their clubs is huge.
Their opponents will feel it is a long way down the track to August and September, and today's game might not matter when it comes to that point. But it is huge for Mayo because they have struggled. Psychologically they will be in a great place tonight, to get to Croke Park and to win.
They fully deserved to win, they dominated possession. James Horan alluded to it that they probably should have won by a lot more. Kerry were a much poorer side but still could have nicked it.
But particularly in the second half, after struggling in the second quarter to break down the Kerry defence, they came out and moved the ball quicker, got the ball inside, and some of the scores they picked off in the second half were fantastic today.
They have to live in the moment, really enjoy tonight, enjoy lifting that national title, and then get ready for championship.
While this was a magnificent display from Mayo, one would feel that bigger challenges will lay ahead. The road to the Sam Maguire is likely to travel through the Dubs once again this summer, and Jim Gavin's team will be desperate to compete an unprecedented five-in-a-row.
Kerry will also be the stronger for their league campaign, and they still have a couple of key contributors to return to the team.
For now, Mayo can enjoy this fantastic victory. The summer is less certain, but now that their Croke Park hoodoo is behind them, they can concentrate on ending the curse that has plagued them since 1951.