The Yew County
The Heather County
|Ground(s):||MacHale Park, Castlebar|
|Dominant sport:||Gaelic football|
|Football Championship:||Sam Maguire Cup|
|Hurling Championship:||Nicky Rackard Cup|
|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 county teams.
The county football team was the second from the province of Connacht to win an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (SFC), following Galway, but the first to appear in the final. It plays in the Connacht Senior Football Championship. The team has won three All-Ireland Senior Football Championship wins--1936, 1950, 1951 and has acquired a long-term record for reaching ten All-Ireland SFC finals only to fall at the ultimate hurdle in 1989, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2020. See Mayo county football team#Curse for the mythology associated with this losing streak. Mayo has won the greatest number of National Football League titles consecutively (six, from 1934 to 1939). Mayo was the longest serving team in Division 1 of the National Football League when relegated in 2020, having played there since 1997.
Hurling in Mayo is administered by the Mayo GAA Hurling Committee, which is a sub-committee of the Mayo GAA County Board.
Clubs contest the Mayo Senior Football Championship.
Though not affiliated[by what?] through the 1890s, there is strong evidence[clarification needed] of GAA activity in Mayo and the rivalry with Galway which brought success to both counties from the 1930s onwards was already in evidence. Between them, Galway and Mayo have won more than three-quarters of the Connacht Senior Football Championship (SFC) titles that have been contested. Mayo has 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 River Shannon was the 1935 Connacht SFC final when 26,000 spectators witnessed then league title holders Mayo defeat then All-Ireland SFC holders Galway at Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon. Mayo was leading by a goal in the last minute of the 1936 Connacht SFC final when Brendan Nestor scored an equaliser for Galway; Nestor raised the flag himself and caused a riot. However, Mayo won the replay and went on to capture their first All-Ireland SFC, defeating Laois by 4-11 (23) to 0-5 (5) in the final. The following year, 1937, the county was the victim of a Louis Blessing last-minute goal in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final against Cavan, another match that featured a pitch invasion. This 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 its seventh league title in 1941. Due to the Second World War, the league was suspended for four seasons until 1946, and Mayo was unable to add to these successes.
Following Mayo's 1939 Connacht SFC final victory, the team took nine years to emerge from the province again. Mayo narrowly lost the 1948 All-Ireland SFC Final to Cavan and 1949 All-Ireland SFC semi-final to Meath. However, the county returned to Croke Park to win the 1950 All-Ireland SFC 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). Mayo retained the All-Ireland SFC the following year, with Pádraig Carney (known as the flying doctor because he had returned from the United States to play the game) scoring three late points to give Mayo a 2-8 (14) to 0-9 (9) victory against Meath. During this period, Mayo also won the National League in 1949 and 1954, the county's eighth and ninth titles in this competition. Eight wides and a one-point defeat in the replayed 1955 All-Ireland SFC semi-final against Dublin brought this period of success to an end. Mayo went 12 years without winning another Connacht SFC title. The county then won the 1967 Connacht SFC, ending Galway's four-in-a-row All-Ireland SFC expectations in the process. Another Connacht SFC followed in 1969. Mayo also added a tenth National League title in 1970, defeating Down in the final by 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 SFC title, coming closest when losing the 1975 Connacht SFC final to Sligo after a replay.
While Mayo had not won an All-Ireland SFC title since 1951, nor even qualified for the final, the 1980s brought a marked improvement in the team's fortunes. The 1981 championship bridged a twelve-year gap when Mayo defeated Sligo at MacHale Park in Castlebar in the Connacht SFC final by a scoreline of 0-12 to 0-4; however, this was followed by a heavy defeat to the sport's then dominant Kerry team, by a scoreline of 1-6 to 2-19. Mayo and Galway were positioned on opposite sides of the 1985 championship draw, and easy victories over Leitrim (semi-final) and Roscommon in the final, allowed Mayo to win the title. Mayo played Dublin in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final, the county's first championship meeting with the Dubs since 1955 ending in a draw, with a scoreline of 1-13 to 1-13. Mayo player John Finn's jaw was broken in mysterious circumstances during the first game; tension was high for the replay. However, despite a goal from Padraig Brogan, Dublin easily defeated Mayo by eight points, with a scoreline of 2-12 to 1-7. Still, this was as close as Mayo had come to an All-Ireland SFC final since 1955. Though the team was relegated to Division 2 of the National League in 1988, the county fared better in that year's championship. Connacht SFC wins over Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon (the last in the final) brought Mayo to another All-Ireland SFC semi-final. However, reigning All-Ireland SFC champions Meath defeated the county, by a scoreline of 0-16 to 2-5, on its way to defend the title. Former player John O'Mahony took over as manager ahead of the 1989 season. Mixed results in the league were followed by that year's championship. After a draw in the Connacht SFC semi-final against Galway in Tuam, Mayo won the replay by a scoreline of 2-13 to 1-8 in Castlebar, with goals from Liam McHale and Anthony "Larry" Finnerty. The final, against Roscommon, was held in Castlebar. This too resulted in a draw, 0-12 to 1-9. A further 70 minutes at Dr Hyde Park a week later could not separate the teams either, with Mayo winning after extra-time by a scoreline of 3-14 to 2-13. A scrappy game against Tyrone in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final ended with Mayo winning by a scoreline of 0-12 to 1-6. This victory was made famous by an iconic image of a bandaged Willie Joe Padden. Mayo's first All-Ireland SFC final appearance in 38 years was against Cork, the runner-up in the previous two competitions. Though Mayo substitute Finnerty scored a goal in the middle of the second half, Cork won by a scoreline of 0-17 to 1-11.
Though Mayo won Connacht SFC titles in 1992 and 1993, the early 1990s was a largely unsuccessful period for the county, as the standard of Connacht football declined significantly between 1990 and 1995. Former Dublin player Brian McDonald took over as manager for the 1992 season, which ended in defeat to Donegal in a 1992 All-Ireland SFC semi-final. Former Kerry player Jack O'Shea succeeded McDonald as manager but resigned after the 1994 campaign, which ended in a Connacht SFC final to a Leitrim team then managed by John O'Mahony. Anthony Egan succeeded O'Shea as manager but 1995 was a low point for Mayo, with relegation to Division 3 of the National League followed by a championship campaign that ended in a seven-point defeat to Galway in the Connacht SFC final in Tuam. John Maughan, noted for managing Clare to a Munster Senior Football Championship title in 1992, was brought in as manager in an effort to improve the team's position. Maughan, a former Mayo player and Defence Forces officer, was renowned for the physical fitness regime he imposed on his teams; improvements were swift. Mayo won Division 3 of the National League in 1996; then the county won its third Connacht SFC title of the decade, defeating Galway in the final. Maughan's team produced its year's best performance in the 1996 All-Ireland SFC semi-final against Kerry. Mayo won by a scoreline of 2-13 to 1-10, with a James Horan goal lobbed from a distance of 40 metres by in the last minute of the game sealing the victorya nd giving Mayo its first championship victory against Kerry since 1951. Ray Dempsey's 45th-minute goal gave Mayo a lead of six points in the 1996 All-Ireland SFC final against Meath; 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 but conceded a goal to Tommy Dowd and lost by one-point on a scoreline of 2-9 to 1-11. Mayo defeated Galway, Leitrim and Sligo (the last of these in the final) to retain the Connacht SFC title in 1997. The defeat of Galway was Mayo's first victory in Tuam for more than 30 years. Mayo reached its second successive All-Ireland SFC final following a 0-13 to 0-7 victory over Leinster Senior Football Championship winner Offaly. However, Mayo lost the 1997 All-Ireland SFC final to Kerry by a scoreline of 0-13 to 1-7 in a poor game illuminated by the skill of Kerry forward Maurice Fitzgerald. Mortimer received another All Star, with Pat Fallon also receiving one. Mayo entered the 1998 Connacht SFC heavily favoured to win the competition, but John O'Mahony's Galway team ambushed the county in the preliminary round in Castlebar. Two Ciarán McDonald goals could not prevent a 2-6 to 1-13 defeat. Mayo had achieved promotion in the 1997-98 National League and returned to Division 1 of the National League. Maughan resigned as manager in 1999 after four tumultuous seasons.
Pat Holmes was manager for the 2000 season, but his managerial career got off to a poor start with a Connacht SFC first round defeat against Sligo. When National League matches resumed in the spring of 2001, Mayo won the competition for the eleventh time. In what was the only national final played between the two western rivals, Mayo defeated Galway by a scoreline of 0-13 to 0-12, courtesy of substitute Marty McNicholas's late point. This was Mayo's first national title since 1970. League success did not transfer to the championship and Mayo lost the Connacht SFC final to Roscommon following a last-minute Gerry Lohan goal. That year's introduction of the All-Ireland SFC qualifier system meant Mayo received a second chance. The county met Westmeath but this too ended in a Mayo defeat, albeit after extra time. Galway defeated Mayo in the opening round of the 2002 championship. Into the qualifiers once more, Mayo fared better this time with wins against Roscommon, Limerick and Tipperary, facing the latter duo for the first time in the championship. In the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final (the quarter-final stage having been added to the championship in 2001), Cork again provided the opposition and Mayo again lost, by a scoreline of 0-16 to 1-10 on this occasion. Mayo's failure to win a Connacht SFC title under Holmes and his departure at the end of the 2002 season paved the way for John Maughan's return for a second term as team manager. The first season of Maughan's return was also a failure as Galway defeated Mayo in the Connacht SFC final and Fermanagh defeated Mayo in the last 12 of that year's All-Ireland SFC. Mayo regained the Connacht SFC title with ease in 2004, securing facile wins over New York, Galway and Roscommon, with none of the teams able to finish its match within five points of Mayo. The county then attained an unexpected victory over reigning All-Ireland SFC champions Tyrone in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final. However, Mayo's form rapidly deteriorated following this win. A struggle to overcome surprise All-Ireland SFC semi-finalists Fermanagh following a replay led to an eight-point loss to Kerry in the All-Ireland SFC final on a scoreline of 1-20 to 2-9. In the 2005 championship, Mayo did not retain its title, losing to Galway in the 2005 Connacht SFC final. A three-point victory over Cavan in the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers was followed by a three-point All-Ireland SFC quarter-final defeat to Kerry, bringing an end to Maughan's second term as manager. Mickey Moran then became Mayo's first manager from outside the county since Jack O'Shea managed the team in the early 1990s. In the 2006 championship, Moran led the team to another Connacht SFC title, defeating Galway by one point in the final. Following an unconvincing replay victory over Laois in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final, in the semi-final against Dublin, Mayo produced arguably its greatest performance since the defeat of Kerry ten years previously. Kerry again awaited Mayo in the All-Ireland SFC final. Kerry defeated Mayo at the competition's ultimate stage for the third time in ten years. 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. John O'Mahony returned; in his first season back as manager, O'Mahony led Mayo to the National League final but this ended in defeat to Donegal. Mayo defeated Galway in the 2009 Connacht SFC final by a scoreline of 2-12 to 1-14, with Peader Gardiner's injury-time point giving Mayo a first (and only) Connacht SFC title of O'Mahony's second term as manager, and its 42nd title overall. However, a 2-15 to 1-15 defeat to Meath followed in the 2009 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final. The 2010 season was a nadir for Mayo. Cork defeated it in a National League final, Sligo defeated it in the first round of the 2010 Connacht SFC and Longford defeated it in round one of the 2010 All-Ireland SFC qualifiers. John O'Mahony immediately resigned as Mayo manager after this game.
James Horan replaced O'Mahony as manager for the 2011 campaign. 2011 Connacht SFC, Mayo won that year's Connacht SFC title by defeating Roscommon at a rain-sodden Dr Hyde Park. Mayo was the underdog ahead of its 2011 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final against title holder Cork but won by four points. The county's championship campaign 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 2012 National League final but lost to Cork. Mayo retained the Connacht SFC title with wins against Leitrim and Sligo, before defeating Down in the 2012 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final. Encountering the reigning champion Dublin in an All-Ireland SFC semi-final, Mayo overcame a Dublin rally to win by a scoreline of 0-19 to 0-16 and qualify for a first All-Ireland SFC final since 2006. Conceding two goals in the first eleven minutes of that game, Mayo to Donegal by a scoreline of 2-11 to 0-13. Mayo easily won its third consecutive Connacht SFC in 2013, defeating Galway by 17 points, Roscommon by 12 points and first-time finalist London by 16 points. Mayo met Donegal in the 2013 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final, winning comprehensively. A six-point win over Tyrone returned Mayo to the All-Ireland SFC final. A close game was ultimately decided by a single point in favour of Mayo's oppponent. Horan led Mayo to the Connacht SFC title in his fourth year as team manager, after wins against New York, Roscommon and a victory against Galway in the final. A one-point win over Cork led to a 2014 All-Ireland SFC semi-final meeting with Kerry. An improved second-half performance had Mayo leading by five points as the last five minutes approached; however, a Kieran Donaghy goal levelled the game, 1-16 apiece. The GAA fixed the replay for Gaelic Grounds in Limerick as Croke Park was unavailable due to it hosting a game of American football. Another eventful match occurred there and the teams were again level after 70 minutes of play. Kerry stretched its lead in extra time and won by a scoreline of 3-16 to 3-13. James Horan resigned as team manager immediately afterwards.
Mayo appointed Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly as joint managers ahead of the 2015 season. After defeating Galway in the 2015 Connacht SFC semi-final, a 6-25 to 2-11 victory over Sligo gave Mayo a record-breaking fifth consecutive Connacht SFC title. Another All-Ireland SFC quarter-final defeat of Donegal led to Mayo meeting Dublin again in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final. Dublin won by seven points. A player protest against management over the winter led to the resignation of Holmes and Connelly. Stephen Rochford succeeded them as Mayo manager for the 2016 season. Though its league performance was poor, Mayo avoided relegation from Division 1 for an eighteenth consecutive year. A heavy favourite to win a sixth successive Connacht SFC title, Galway achieved an unexpected win by a scoreline of 0-12 to 1-12 against Mayo in the semi-final of the competition. Mayo advanced through the 2016 All-Ireland SFC qualifiers, with unconvincing victories against Fermanagh, Kildare and Westmeath to reach an All-Ireland SFC quarter-final encounter with Tyrone, which Mayo won by a point. Tipperary awaited in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final, which Mayo won to set up an All-Ireland SFC final against Dublin. Mayo's Kevin McLoughlin and Colm Boyle both scored early own goals to give Dublin a significant half-time lead (though no Dublin player scored in the first 30 minutes of the game). Cillian O'Connor scored an equalising point in the 77th minute of play to leave the score at 0-15 to 2-9. Thus, a replay, which ended in another All-Ireland SFC final single-point defeat. Cillian O'Connor had an opportunity to bring the game to extra time in the 76th minute but he missed the free. After a 2017 Connacht SFC semi-final loss to Galway, Mayo required extra time in two games and played a total of eight games to reach the 2017 All-Ireland SFC final against Dublin. After conceding an early goal in that final, Mayo dominated the game and held control for most of the first half, leading by one point at half-time. However, Dublin recovered and Dean Rock scored a free late into injury time to win the game for his team, inflicting a one-point defeat on Mayo at this stage and to the same opponent for a second consecutive year. Galway defeated Mayo in the opening round of the 2018 Connacht SFC and, after an All-Ireland SFC qualifier defeat to Kildare, Rochford resigned as team manager. James Horan returned as manager in 2019. The county was relegated from Division 1 on the final day of the 2020 National League, its first time to exit the top flight in 23 years, with Tyrone heavily defeating the team in Castlebar. Mayo reached the 2020 All-Ireland SFC final, attaining its normal defeat, again to Dublin, while conceding the fastest goal scored in the history of All-Ireland SFC finals, knocking more than 20 seconds off a record which had stood for 58 years.
Although not a traditional hurling county, hurling is strong in certain parts of the county especially in the eastern region around Ballyhaunis and Tooreen. Mayo has four senior hurling clubs, each of which competes against the others annually for the TJ Tyrell Mayo Senior Hurling Championship. These four clubs are Tooreen, Ballyhaunis, Castlebar Mitchels and Westport. Tooreen has the most titles, with 26.
Ballyhaunis is the reigning senior champion club; it has six senior titles.
Hurling at underage level is also expanding in Mayo, with ten clubs competing in underage leagues and championships in the county. As well as the four adult sides named above, four other underage clubs have formed in recent years. These clubs are Ballyvary, Moytura, Caiseal Gaels and Claremorris.
The four senior clubs (see above) provide players for the Mayo senior hurling panel, which participates in the National Hurling League and the All-Ireland Nicky Rackard (Tier 3) Cup.
The ten underage clubs (see above) provide players for the Mayo underage hurling development panels. Mayo has development panels at under-14, under-15, under-16 and minor age-groups, and competes in the All-Ireland 'B' competitions each year.
Mayo have the following achievements in ladies' football.
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.