London Gaa make history by reaching the Connacht Final for the first time ever.
After our near escape in Ruislip back in 2011, I had a feeling that this London team would sooner rather than later cause a shock claim a scalp in the Connacht Championship. So much so a few of us headed over to London again last year for the match between London and Leitrim, which I was sure London would win. Leitrim, like Mayo the year previously were lucky to come out of Ruislip with the win.
This year I was backing London again and sure enough they beat Sligo at home in Ruislip for their second only Connacht Championship win. They then had to travel to Carrick on Shannon for the semi-final against Leitrim. Again I had them to win this match (which they drew) unfortunately I was unable to go to that match, however I did make up to Hyde Park in Roscommon for the replay, all the photos can be viewed here, where the Mayo minors were playing Galway in the Connacht Minor semi-final, (which Mayo won). London came out of the blocks flying and had the game won at half time on a scoreline of 2-10 to 0-02. Leitrim did make a comeback in the second half, with a lot of help from the ref, but London held out and the match finished London 2-11 Leitrim 1-13.
London were now in the Connacht Final for the first time ever. This was their All-Ireland. The Queen & Mayor of London were invited over for the Final, both had prior engagements. I was slightly worried going into this match, not that London posed any great threat to Mayo, with no disrespect to London, but what injuries Mayo players might pick up after seeing the hard-hitting London gave Leitrim a few weeks previously. Thankfully everyone came off the pitch ok.
Although Mayo made a lot of mistakes on the day, its great to see Alan Freeman gaining in confidence. Keith “zippy” Higgins was his usual dependable self as was Ger Cafferkey. The match was pretty much over at half time and James Horan emptied the bench in the second half. It was great to see two-time “young player of the year” Cillian O’Connor come on and score 3-03 (1 penalty). The final score for the match was Mayo 5-11 London 0-10. This (i think) is only the second time we won 3 Connacht titles in a row, the last time was 1950 where we went on to win the All-Ireland, and again in 1951! Hopefully this is a good omen for this year.
For in-depth analyses and debate, head over to WJ’s mayogaablog and also Mike Kelly’s blog is a great read for all things football & hurling. All the photos from the match can be viewed on the Mayo Football Photos page.