The Yew County
The Heather County
|County colours:||Green, Red|
|Ground(s):||MacHale Park, Castlebar|
|Dominant sport:||Gaelic football|
|Football Championship:||Sam Maguire Cup|
|Hurling Championship:||Nicky Rackard|
|Ladies' Gaelic football:||Brendan Martin Cup|
The Mayo County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) (Irish: Cumann Luthchleas Gael Coiste Maigh Eo) or Mayo GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Mayo and the Mayo inter-county teams.
Mayo's senior Gaelic football team play in the Connacht Senior Football Championship. Mayo have won four All-Ireland Senior Football Championship wins—1936, 1950, 1951 and have won the greatest number of National Football League titles consecutively (6 from 1934 to 1939). Mayo are also currently the longest serving team the National Football League (Ireland) division 1, having played there since 1997. Mayo have in recent times become known for reaching All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Finals only to fall at the ultimate hurdle. Mayo hold the Championship record for consecutive losing All-Ireland Senior Football Final appearances, this currently stands at nine.
In 1989, they reached their first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final since their last previous appearance in 1951 only to lose to Cork. In 1996, a freak point by Meath at the end of the final forced a replay, which saw Mayo concede another late score that would deny them victory. Kerry bridged an 11-year title gap against them in 1997 with a three-point win, before torturing them by eight points in 2004 and thirteen points in 2006.
Mayo returned to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final in 2012 only for Donegal to bridge a 20-year gap between titles, helped in no small part by a nightmare opening quarter for Mayo as Michael Murphy launched a rocket of a shot into the goal after three minutes. Then, in the eleventh minute, Colm McFadden seized the ball from the grasp of Kevin Keane and slid it into the net for a second Donegal goal. Mayo managed thirteen points to Donegal's two goals and eleven, only got on the scoresheet after sixteen minutes when already two goals behind and never led during the match.2013 saw Mayo in the final again, and once more coming up short, this time being seen off by Dublin, who won by a single point. 2016 likewise, a single point against Dublin, though this time after a replay; the drawn game featuring two own goals by Mayo players. In the 2017 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final after a thrilling final, Mayo yet again lost to Dublin by a single point. Mayo have now lost 9 finals since 1989 and have not won the All-Ireland since 1951.
The team's traditional colours are green and red. The Mayo jersey will commonly be mostly green, with a thick horizontal red stripe just below chest level. These colours are inspired by "The Green Above The Red", a rebel song.
Mayo's current crest is based on the county's coat of arms, which is shown on the left. It features four crosses, each representing a diocese of the Catholic Church in Mayo. The Patriarchal or 'double' cross represents the Archdiocese of Tuam, while the three smaller Passion crosses represent Achonry, Killala and Galway/Kilmacduagh/Kilfenora. The Irish root word of the county, Maigh Eo, means "plain of the yew trees", and the trees that surround the crest represent this. As well as this, the number of trees is significant, with the nine trees representing the number of baronies in the county. The sailing ship represents the county's maritime history, while the red sea below the green hills represents the traditional "green above the red" motif of the county. The Mayo GAA crest also features the Irish words Críost Linn, which translates to "Christ be with us".
Though not affiliated through the 1890s, there is strong evidence of GAA activity in Mayo and the rivalry with Galway that brought success to both counties from the 1930s on was already in evidence. This history between Mayo and Galway has produced two of the finest footballing teams in the game. Between them, the two teams have more than three quarters of the Connacht titles that have been contested.
Mayo have an unequalled number of consecutive National Football League titles. The Mayo team were champions in 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939.
One of the great turning points in GAA history west of the Shannon was the 1935 Connacht Final when 26,000 turned out to see National League Champions Mayo beat the All-Ireland champions Galway in Roscommon. In the 1936 Connacht Final Mayo were leading by a goal in the last minute when Brendan Nestor scored an equalising goal for Galway - he raised the flag himself and caused a riot. However, Mayo won the replay and went on to capture their first All-Ireland Title, beating Laois by 4-11 (23) to 0-5 (5) in the final. The following year, 1937, they were the victim of a Louis Blessing last-minute goal in the All Ireland Semi-Final against Cavan in another match that featured a pitch invasion. It ended Mayo's run of 57 matches without defeat. Mayo dominated the National Football League for six years, but pulled out of the 1939-40 league in a grievance over the 1939 semi-final, a bad-tempered draw and replay with Kerry. Mayo returned to the competition to win their seventh National Football League title in 1941. Unfortunately, due to World War II, the league was suspended for four seasons until 1946, and Mayo were unable to add to these successes.
Following Mayo's 1939 Connacht Final victory, it took the team nine years to emerge from Connacht again, but they narrowly lost the 1948 All-Ireland Final to Cavan and 1949 semi-final to Meath. However, they returned to Croke Park in 1950 to win an extraordinary All-Ireland Title when Louth's Sean Boyle had his kick-out charged down and Mick Flanagan broke through for a freak winning goal, Mayo winning the game by 2-5 (11) to 1-6 (9). In 1951 Mayo retained the All-Ireland Title, winning their third title overall, with three late points from Pádraig Carney (known as the flying doctor because he had returned from the United States to play the game) giving Mayo a 2-8 (14) to 0-9 (9) win over Meath. During this period, Mayo also won the National Football League in 1949 and 1954, their eight and ninth titles in this competition. Eight wides and a one-point defeat in the replayed 1955 All-Ireland Semi-Final against Dublin brought this particular era to an end.
Mayo went 12 years without winning another Connacht Championship title, until the Mayo team of the late 1960s won the Connacht Championship in 1967 (destroying Galway's 4-in-a-row All-Ireland hopes in the process) and again in 1969. Mayo also added their tenth National League Title to their collection in 1970, beating Down in the final on a scoreline of 4-7 (19) to 0-10 (10). Despite this success, the 1970s was arguably the least successful decade in the history of Mayo football, as the team failed to win a Connacht Championship title throughout the decade, coming closest when losing the 1975 final to Sligo following a replay.
While the team had not won an All-Ireland title since 1951, nor even qualified for the final, the 1980s saw a marked improvement in the team's fortunes. A twelve-year gap was finally bridged in 1981 when Sligo were defeated in the Connacht Final on a scoreline of 0-12 to 0-4 at McHale Park, which was followed by a heavy defeat to a great Kerry side, 1-6 to 2-19.
Mayo were on the opposite side of the draw to Galway in 1985, and easy victories over Leitrim (semi-final) and Roscommon in the final, saw them claim the Nestor Cup. The final was notable as it saw the retirement of Roscommon great Dermot Earley, Snr, who was chaired from the pitch by the Mayo players at the end of the match. Dublin lay in wait in the All-Ireland Semi-Final, and Mayo's first championship meeting with the Dubs since 1955 ended in a draw 1-13 to 1-13. The first match saw Mayo player John Finn's jaw broken in mysterious circumstances and tension was high for the replay. However, despite a goal from Padraig Brogan, Dublin made easy work of Mayo in the end, running out winners by eight points, 2-12 to 1-7. Despite this, the year marked as close as Mayo had come to an All Ireland Final since 1955.
The 1989 season saw former player John O'Mahony take over as manager, and after mixed results in the league, an epic championship ensued. After a draw in the Connacht Semi-Final against Galway in Tuam, Mayo won the replay 2-13 to 1-8 in Castlebar, with goals from Liam McHale and Anthony 'Larry' Finnerty. The final was played in Castlebar against Roscommon and this too resulted in a draw, 0-12 to 1-9. A further 70 minutes in Dr. Hyde Park a week later also could not separate the teams, with Mayo eventually running out winners 3-14 to 2-13 after extra time. A scrappy game in the All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone ended with Mayo as winners 0-12 to 1-6, and was made famous by the iconic image of a bandaged Willie Joe Padden. Mayo's first All-Ireland Final appearance in 38 years was against Cork, runners up from the previous two seasons. Cork's experience told in the final, and despite a goal by substitute Finnerty in the middle of the second half, Cork ran out winners on a scoreline of 0-17 to 1-11.
Despite winning Connacht titles in 1992 and 1993, the early 1990s was a largely unsuccessful period for Mayo, as Connacht football in general suffered a severe drop in standards between 1990 and 1995.
John Maughan, who had achieved some notable successes as manager of Clare including a 1992 Munster Championship title win, was brought in as manager in an effort to improve the team's standing. Maughan was a former Mayo player and Defence Forces officer. He was renowned for the physical fitness regime he imposed on his teams, and the improvements were swift. Mayo won Division 3 of the National League in 1996 before going on to win their third Connacht title of the decade, overcoming Galway in the final. Maughan's side produced their performance of the year in the All-Ireland Semi-Final against Kerry, winning by 2-13 to 1-10, a lobbed goal from 40 metres by James Horan in the last minute of the game sealing the victory. This was Mayo's first victory against Kerry in the championship since 1951. In the All-Ireland Final against Meath Ray Dempsey's 45th-minute goal gave Mayo a lead of six points; however a Meath comeback, culminating in a last-minute Colm Coyle long-range point, saw the game end in a draw on a scoreline of 1-9 to 0-12. During a bad-tempered replay - which included a brawl in which Coyle and Liam McHale, one of Mayo's most influential players, was sent off - Mayo led by four points at half-time only to succumb to a Tommy Dowd goal, losing the game by one-point on a scoreline of 2-9 to 1-11.
Mayo retained the Connacht title in 1997, beating Galway, Leitrim and Sligo in the final. The Galway win was notable as it was Mayo's first victory in Tuam in over 30 years. Mayo went on to reach their second successive All-Ireland Final following a 0-13 to 0-7 victory over the Leinster Champions, Offaly. However, Mayo again lost out in the final, losing by 0-13 to 1-7 to Kerry in a poor game illuminated by the skill of Kerry forward Maurice Fitzgerald. Mortimer was again honoured with an All Star, with only Pat Fallon joining him from the ranks of the Mayo team. In 1999 Mayo returned to Division 1 of the National Football League and another Connacht title (Mayo's fifth of the decade) followed, after wins over New York, Roscommon and Galway in the final. However, Mayo failed to reach another All-Ireland Final falling to Cork 2-12 to 0-12 in the semi-final. Manager John Maughan resigned after four tumultuous seasons.
In 2004, and with Maughan having returned as manager, Mayo regained the Connacht title with ease following facile wins over New York, Galway and Roscommon, with none of these teams able to finish their matches within five points of Mayo. Mayo followed this success with a surprise victory over reigning All-Ireland Champions Tyrone in the All-Ireland Quarter Final on a scoreline of 0-16 to 1-09. However, Mayo's form rapidly deteriorated following this win, and the team struggled to see off surprise semi-finalists Fermanagh following a replay before losing the All-Ireland Final to Kerry by eight points on a scoreline of 1-20 to 2-9. James Nallen and Ciarán McDonald made the All Stars team that year. Mayo failed to retain their Connacht title in 2005 losing to Galway in the final. A three-point victory over Cavan in the qualifiers led to a three-point All-Ireland Quarter-Final defeat to Kerry, bringing to an end Maughan's second spell as manager.
In 2006, Mickey Moran became Mayo's first manager from outside the county since Jack O'Shea managed the team in the early 1990s. Moran guided the team to another Connacht title, beating Galway by a point in the final. Following an unconvincing replay victory over Laois in the All-Ireland Quarter-Final, in the Semi-Final against Dublin Mayo produced arguably their greatest performance since the defeat of Kerry ten years previously. Even before the game started tensions were raised by Mayo warming up into the Hill 16 end. They were soon joined by Dublin, and some jostling occurred between players and management teams. The match itself was of high quality and resulted in Mayo coming from seven points behind with 20 minutes remaining to defeat favourites Dublin on a scoreline of 1-16 to 2-12. Ciarán McDonald's winning point from under the Hogan Stand was a particular highlight. Kerry again awaited Mayo in the All Ireland Final and for the third time in 10 years they defeated Mayo, this time on a scoreline of 4-15 to 3-5. Despite the relative success of the 2006 season, rumours persisted of divisions between Moran and the Mayo County Board and Moran was not retained as manager for the 2007 season.
In 2007, John O'Mahony returned as Mayo manager following a 16-year absence during which he had won a Connacht title with Leitrim (1994) as well as two All-Ireland titles with Galway (1998 and 2001) and in his first season led the team to the National League Final, where they were defeated by Donegal. Well beaten by Galway in the Connacht Final, they exited the Championship in the second round of the Qualifiers at the hands of Derry in Celtic Park, Derry, a game in which Ciarán McDonald made his final appearance for Mayo off the bench.
An injury time point by Peader Gardiner saw Mayo win their first Connacht title since O'Mahony's return, and their 42nd title overall, when they beat Galway in the 2009 Connacht Final on a scoreline of 2-12 to 1-14. However, defeat to Meath followed in the All-Ireland Quarter Final, 2-15 to 1-15.
2010 was a nadir for Mayo; despite reaching the National League Final, they were beaten by Cork, and defeat in the Connacht Championship first round by Sligo was followed up by an All-Ireland Qualifier Round 1 loss to Longford. John O'Mahony immediately stepped down as Mayo manager following the game. O'Mahony was replaced by James Horan for the 2011 campaign. Horan had won a Mayo Senior Football Championship with Ballintubber as manager the previous year. After suffering a scare in London in the first round of the 2011 Connacht Championship, Mayo won that years Championship by beating Roscommon in a rain sodden Dr. Hyde Park. Mayo were underdogs going into the All-Ireland Quarter Final against reigning All-Ireland Champions Cork, but won by four points. The Championship ended at the Semi-Final stage with a nine-point defeat to Kerry, but the improved performances augured well for the future.
Mayo reached the final of the National Football League in 2012, but lost out to Cork 2-10 to 0-11. Mayo retained the Connacht title with wins over Leitrim and Sligo before defeating Down in the Quarter Final. Facing reigning champions Dublin in the Semi Final, Mayo survived a Dublin fightback to win 0-19 to 0-16 and reach their first final since 2006. Conceding two goals in the first eleven minutes, Mayo lost the 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final to Donegal by 2-11 to 0-13. Four Mayo players earned All Stars, first timers Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins and Lee Keegan being joined by Alan Dillon for his second. In 2013, Mayo easily won their third consecutive Connacht Championship, defeating Galway by 17 points, Roscommon by 12 points and London by 16 points, in what was a novel final. They gained revenge against Donegal for the previous year in the Quarter Final, running out winners 4-17 to 1-10. A 6-point win over Tyrone saw Mayo return to the final, this time to face Dublin. A close game saw Dublin win by a single point on a scoreline of 2-12 to 1-14. Higgins and Keegan won their second All Stars, along with a first for Colm Boyle and Aidan O'Shea. Entering his fourth year as manager, Horan guided Mayo to another Connacht title after wins over New York, Roscommon and a final victory over Galway, 3-14 to 0-16. A one-point win over Cork led to Semi-Final match up against Kerry. A fantastic second half performance led to Mayo leading by 5 points going into the last five minutes, however a Kieren Donaghy goal saw the game end in a draw, 1-16 apiece. Controversially, the replay was fixed for Limerick's Gaelic Grounds due to the unavailability of Croke Park owing to an American Football game taking place there. Another epic match ensued, with the sides once more all square after 70 minutes. Kerry managed to pull away in extra-time, eventually winning 3-16 to 3-13. James Horan stepped down immediately afterwards, having done much to restore the pride to Mayo football, albeit falling just short of winning the All-Ireland.
Stephen Rochford was selected as Mayo manager for 2016, and a poor league campaign nonetheless saw the side stay in Division 1 of the league for an 18th consecutive year. Going for a sixth successive Connacht title, hot favourites Mayo were shocked in the semi-final by Galway, who ran out winners 0-12 to 1-12. However, Mayo battled through the Qualifiers with unconvincing wins against Fermanagh, Kildare and Westmeath to reach a Quarter Final against Tyrone. In a tight game, Mayo won by a point 0-13 to 0-12. Surprise packets Tipperary awaited in the Semi-Final, which Mayo won 2-13 to 0-14 to set up an All-Ireland Final meeting with Dublin. The game ended in a draw, Mayo battled back after conceding two unfortunate own goals from Kevin McLoughlin and Colm Boyle. Cillian O'Connor got a 77th minute equalising point to bring it to a replay, the game finishing 0-15 to 2-09. The replay ended yet another All-Ireland Final defeat by a single point. Cillian O'Connor had the chance with a free to bring the game to extra time in the 76th minute he missed it. It finished 1-15 to 1-14. It took Mayo eight games to get to the All-Ireland final in 2017. A bad start turned into a roller coaster, and after their loss to Galway would need extra time in two matches to ultimately end up in the final. After a quick concession of a goal to Dublin, Mayo took grip of the final and were in control for most of the first half, leading by a point at half time. However Dublin bounced back and a late free deep into extra time would see Dublin edge out winners, on a score line of 1-17 to 1-16, beating Mayo by a point for the second year in a row.
2019: James Horan's return to the managerial position
Although not a traditional hurling county, hurling is strong in certain parts of the county especially in the eastern region around Ballyhaunis and Tooreen. There are 4 Senior hurling clubs in Mayo, who compete for the TJ Tyrell Senior Hurling Championship each year. These 4 clubs are Tooreen, Ballyhaunis, Castlebar Mitchels, Westport. Ballyhaunis are the reigning Senior Champions and have 6 senior titles, while Tooreen hold the most titles with 26.
These 4 clubs provide the players to the Mayo Senior hurling panel, who take part in the National Hurling League and in the All-Ireland Christy Ring (Tier 2) Cup. Mayo's best performances in the Christy Ring Cup came in 2008 and 2009, when the Mayo side fell at the semi-final stage to Carlow and Down respectively. The Mayo U-21 hurling team compete in the Connacht U-21B hurling championship each year along with Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim.
Hurling at underage level is also expanding in Mayo, with 10 clubs competing in underage leagues and championships in the county. As well as the 6 adult sides named above, 4 other underage clubs have formed in recent years. These clubs are Ballyvary, Moytura, Caiseal Gaels and Claremorris. These 10 clubs provide the players for the Mayo underage hurling development panels. Mayo have development panels at U14, U15, U16 and Minor age-groups, and compete in the All-Ireland 'B' competitions each year.
Mayo's most famous hurlers are Joe Henry (Tooreen), who won Railway Cup medals with Connacht in the 1980s, and current dual player Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis) who played for the Mayo football team in the All-Ireland football final in 2006, 2012, 2103 and 2016.
Hurling in Mayo is administered by the Mayo GAA Hurling Committee, which is a sub-committee of the Mayo GAA County Board. In 2016 Mayo won the Nicky Rackard cup beating Armagh 2-16 to 1-15 in Croke Park
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2008)
Mayo contested the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship final of 1959, captained by Josie Ruane from Menulla. Na Brídeoga won the Coiste Chontae an Chláir Shield at Féile na nGael in 2009, Parke (1983) and Ardagh (1988) had previously won divisional honours.
Often derided as eternal optimists and held up as the laughing stock of the GAA world [...] Nobody can simply write off what happened at the hands of Sunday's opponents in two All-Ireland finals in the last decade [...] we will see a repeat of the massacres of recent years.
... But it was, yet again, a nightmare start comparable to 2004 and 2006... You also must commiserate with Mayo. Yet another All-Ireland final defeat... My only concern for them [Mayo], going into next season, would be that they have a lot of similar forwards and none of them are in the mould of Murphy or McFadden.