Sports History Files: A continuing hold on Mayo’s anguish

While American football fans were awakening to seemingly endless hours of NFL pregame shows Sunday morning, there were a few souls in their midst gathering mainly in Irish pubs to watch the finals of another football code on other shores.

And to see if a long-lamented club could end more than 60 years of agony.

In the All-Ireland Football Championship — the Gaelic code that to these American eyes blends a little bit of soccer with quite a bit of rugby — the betting favorites from Dublin took on the sentimental favorites from Mayo.

One of the few mainstream American media accounts came from Chuck Culpepper, Sports on Earth’s resident globetrekker, taking up the case for Mayo.

The western Irish club hasn’t won a final since 1951, and they wouldn’t on Sunday, falling to Dublin by a scoreline of 2-12 and 1-14 (Culpepper’s lead explains why the numbers are listed this way).

9781845962975He experienced for the first time what Mayo followers have felt for decades, and that was the subject of one of the most celebrated recent books about Irish sports.

Gaelic football writer Keith Duggan’s “House of Pain: Through the Rooms of Mayo Football,” was published in 2007, chronicling the club’s penchant for coming up short, and the effect that’s had on its legion of supporters.

While their wait hasn’t been as long as the 86-year World Series gap of the Boston Red Sox, the suffering has been just as profound.

The appearance in the finals on Sunday was the second in as many years and eighth overall (and seventh since 1989) for Mayo, making the longing harder to bear. And yet, as Duggan writes, this is a perfectly normal and human state of being:

So much time and genuflecting is afforded to the champions, to those who prevail and those who make victory seem like the easiest thing in the world. But for most teams and sportspeople, the opposite is true. Losing is the universal sporting experience. In Gaelic games, Mayo stands at a strange and lonely impasse, in that it seems destined to be the county that almost always nearly wins.

(This theme also was captured perfectly in another sport by my acquaintance, Kyle Whelliston, in his excellent “One Beautiful Season,” an ode to mid-major college basketball and his end-of-season reminder that for schools of that ilk, “it always ends in a loss.”)

A Mayo fan commended Duggan for getting “the whole Mayo thing” when “House of Pain” was published, uttering a sentiment that seemingly endures:

Over the years Keith has shown that he understands perfectly what it means to be a Mayo supporter and has written numerous memorable pieces about us. I recall with particular fondness the one where he compared us and our plight to that of the Native Americans and also his rallying call after the 2004 final (which the Irish Times reprinted after the 2006 walloping) where he warned fans from other counties that we didn’t need their sympathy and would be back beating many of them again soon. Amidst all the other wise-after-the-event pieces ripping us to shreds, Keith’s thoughtful take on our defeat was just what we needed.

Writing on The Classical on Friday, the Irish sports writer who goes by the name Fredorrarci thinks it could be worse for the Mayo legions: Mayo_crest

The Mayo curse might be founded on a string of near-misses, but at least the misses have been near; it shows frustrated optimism, but at least there’s optimism. This stands in contrast with my own county, which has gone almost as long without an All-Ireland—in fact, we’ve never really come close since. So deep is the consequent pessimism that if anyone bothered to devise such a fable here, it would just be weird. With scant thwarted thrills to pin it on, it would be a cynical misery of a yarn. If it took human form, it would march up to merrymakers in parks, laugh a hollow laugh, and say: “Dunno what you’re so happy about—you’re going to be dead some day. Dead, I tell you. Ha ha ha.”

So I envy Mayo their ghost stories, and I’ll kind of miss them if Mayo win. But it’s about more than just a curse: there is just something fundamentally beautiful about such a doozy of a futile streak.

On Saturday, Duggan penned a hopeful suggestion in The Irish Times that perhaps this would be the year Mayo fans could free themselves from the ghosts of the past:

They just want to win the bloody game of football. They are tired of the sepia image of gallant Mayo, handsome losers. Let them win a notoriously poor game by a single point!

Instead, that extra single point would go Dublin’s way, as Culpepper absorbed his new-found anguish in the final, exasperating moments Sunday:

My insides churned. My insides churned beyond belief for a game I’d never seen and a team I’d never supported, at this whole thrilling, grinding beast of a game that went by so fast. Added time. Four minutes. A point brought Mayo within two. A point brought Mayo within one, right at the brink. The goalkeeper kicked it away. Dublin began celebrating. It had cobbled together 18 points, Mayo 17. That’s 2-12, and 1-14.

And so it goes, the streak, but Mayo’s official club Twitter account remains undeterred this morning:

We will get there. #DreamBelieveAchieve #mayogaa

Article Global Facebook Twitter Myspace Friendfeed Technorati del.icio.us Digg Google Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon Eli Pets

20 Comments

  1. Posted January 11, 2014 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    It has often been one of my favorite, community points of interest. The trail is properly taken care of and there are actually locations to rest alongside the way. This trail is alot easier now than it had been inside the late 70’s! The grades are simple and easy to deal with and the benefits are amazing! The upper entrance was a little much more tricky, but properly well worth the view..
    tiffany coupons

  2. Posted January 11, 2014 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I nited kingdom proved from your of a re us dollar episode of that real life classes “Prof within the neck of the woods ” i met Jonathan at hi v club. I were seen for rotate having seen it feature barred on inches width C garbage Sunday Morning, inches where both Bricklin and Sarandon gush male erectile dysfunction regarding advantage of the act ion. Sarandon is furthermore an angel investor when you figure out ;.

  3. Posted January 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Information contained on this page is provided by an independent thirdparty content provider. WorldNow and this Station make no warranties or Michael Kors Logo Signature Medium Tan Satchels Sale representations in connection therewith.Perchloroethylene: 2013 World Market Outlook and Forecast is an absolutely essential resource for anyone looking for detailed information on the mentioned market.

  4. Posted January 16, 2014 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    I dugg some of you post as I thought they were invaluable invaluable

  5. Posted January 19, 2014 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    Fine way of telling, and nice paragraph to take facts regarding my presentation subject matter, which i am going to present in institution of higher education.|

  6. Posted January 20, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Increasing up in Canada, most would rank this as the sports rivalry whereby others are calculated. Though this rivalry dates again for the beginning of your 20th century, the groups have had their ups and downs all through the many years. In spite of being probably the most flourishing specialist hockey team of all time, with 24 Stanley Cup Championships, the Montreal Canadiens have struggled as of late, while the Leafs have picked up the baton by appointing former Canadiens goalie legend Ken Dryden as President of your Toronto franchise, which has eleven Championships thus far..
    christian louboutin prive heels http://www.louboutinlouboutin.com/christian-louboutin-prive-heels.html

  7. Posted January 30, 2014 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    These are truly enormous ideas in regarding blogging. You have touched some fastidious points here. Any way keep up wrinting.|

  8. Posted February 9, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    cheap uggs uk hollister outlet tucson cheap michael kors jet set christian louboutin outlet apricot rivet sneakers babyliss curl secret babyliss pro gold titanium root straight iron/comb buy excellent louboutin replica pumps for yourself get facebook likes outlet hollister michael kors outlet blue air jordans for women cheap how to gain followers on pinterest bollweevilplantation.com/cheapjordan11/ cheap authentic jordans cheap louboutin sandals sale with low price michael kors jet set replica cheap michael kors wallet sale at big discount ugg boots discount price michael kors replica christian louboutin replica size 11
    cheap hollister china http://treasureshihtzus.com/cheap_hollister_china.html

  9. Posted February 9, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Thankyou for helping out, good information.

  10. Posted February 24, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Put your shoulder to the wheel.

  11. Posted February 26, 2014 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    Your article is very good! Thank you for sharing this information for me. I have already collect it.I will always care about you and will come back to visit it again.

  12. Posted February 26, 2014 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    I am very glad to read your article, I learned a lot from your articles, thank you!

  13. Posted March 28, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    There is definately a great deal to learn about this topic. I really like all of the points you have made.

  14. Posted March 28, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Deliberate slowly,promptly.

  15. Posted April 14, 2014 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am inspired!
    Extremely useful info particularly the last phase :) I care for
    such info a lot. I used to be looking for this particular information for a very lengthy time.

    Thanks and good luck.

  16. Posted April 15, 2014 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Generally I don’t read article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, very great post.

  17. Posted April 15, 2014 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Deliberate slowly,promptly.

  18. Posted April 19, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    It’s very straightforward to find out any matter on net as compared to textbooks,
    as I found this post at this web page.

  19. Posted April 21, 2014 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I’ve been browsing on-line greater than 3 hours nowadays, yet I never discovered any interesting article like yours.

    It is lovely price enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made just right content as you probably did,
    the internet will likely be much more helpful than ever before.

  20. Posted April 22, 2014 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    Hi, I read your new stuff regularly. Your writing style is awesome, keep up the good work!

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*