In this second instalment of a trawl through some of the magic moments in Mayo GAA history, we revisit 1985 where one of the all-time great goals of the All-Ireland Championship was scored by a Knockmore man, we remember a brilliant breakthrough for ladies football in 1999, how hard the men of 1950 and ’51 worked to win their back to back All-Ireland titles, reflect upon what is possibly the most watched goal in the history of Gaelic football and, of course, take a look back at 2006 and the day took over ‘The Hill’.
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Hump the Hill
“That’s a foolish thing to do,” said Colm O’Rourke on RTÉ in 2006 as the Mayo footballers channelled their Kamikaze urge and dared to tread virgin soil.
The Richter scale is even said to have picked up the gulp of a nation that watched the men in green and red wheel left from their team photograph in front of the Cusack Stand and jog down towards The Hill.
Nothing strange about that, of course, unless you’re playing Dublin. And Mayo were playing Dublin. In an All-Ireland SFC semi-final.
The Dubs claim rights to that end of Croke Park like Britain does Rockall when it’s supposed to be Terra Nullius, or ‘nobody’s land’. Yet in true ‘nobody puts Baby in a corner’ style, Dublin reacted. And sure enough the dancing was about get dirty.
“It will either be a psychological masterstroke by Mickey Moran and John Morrison or it will backfire spectacularly,” remarked Joe Brolly moments before Dublin boss ‘Pillar’ Caffrey slammed into the back of Morrison and the Mayo dietician was flattened by a football. Dublin’s Alan Brogan would later admit he was aiming for another member of the Mayo contingent. How very gracious.
It turned out neither Moran or Morrison had known anything about what plan the Mayo players had hatched – but it wasn’t until Dublin emerged from the tunnel and broke from their photograph towards The Hill that the real fun began.
Ciaran Whelan linked his teammates into one long chain, they barely able to hold back their Gladiator who strutted forward as though he was going to take out the 30 Mayo players one by one.
“They look like the Roman Army on the march at the moment,” quips Sunday Game host Michael Lyster.
Mayo’s players, meanwhile, appear so disinterested that one of them, too far off to make out but clearly left footed (so draw up the shortlist), nonchalantly solos his way through the entire Dublin squad which has now plonked itself in front of The Hill in want of the adulation of their by now frenzied supporters.
“Will Mayo now retreat because that would now be the thing to do, for me,” asks Lyster who, in fairness, it turns out was only suggesting exactly what Mayo manager Mickey Moran was pleading of his players down on the pitch.
“He was waving at lads, ‘get back down. Who decided this? Who did this?’” revealed David Brady in 2017. “And we were going, ‘Lookit Mickey, just relax now, there’s no hassle’.” And there wasn’t. Mayo won an amazing battle 1-16 to 2-12.
Cora and the collarbone
The last of a kind
Electric Carr goes global
It’s possible that no goal in the history of Gaelic games has ever been watched so widely as the one James Carr stuck to the Galway net on the evening of Saturday, July 6, 2019. By the following Tuesday morning it had already clocked more than 10 million views as sports networks all across the globe picked up on the wondrous pace, power and skill exhibited by the youngster from Ardagh.
People who never before had seen a game of Gaelic football were given some introduction to its beauty when Carr electrified the All-Ireland SFC in this qualifier clash of neighbouring counties in Limerick.
Carr’s debut had only come in Mayo’s National Football League final win against Kerry that spring so maybe it was that he still carried that element of surprise when mesmerising the Galway defence better than Keith Barry might.
Carr was all of 60 metres from the opposition’s posts when he collected Paddy Durcan’s long ball up the uncovered stand side of the Gaelic Grounds, and still tight to the sideline when he crossed the 45-metre line at which point he ducked inside, outside and inside again the Galway corner-back Liam Silke. One man beaten, Carr was like a steam train on the downhill slope as he then flew inside Eamonn Brannigan before unleashing a ferocious shot into the far left corner of goalkeeper Bernard Power’s net.
It’s easy to forget that Carr’s first ever goal as a Mayo senior had only arrived three minutes earlier when he was in the right place to smash home a fumble by Power.