Mayo boss Stephen Rochford and Aidan O’Shea following the loss on Saturday.RTE

I'm not superstitious, but sometimes you have to wonder.  Mayo have been trying to win an All-Ireland football final for 65 years now, since they last carried home the Sam Maguire Cup, the greatest prize in Irish sport.

An increasing number of followers believe they are cursed, and they are not kidding either.  They say they were cursed in 1951 by a priest and it has stopped them winning ever since.

Mayo have been in no fewer than eight finals since 1989 and lost every one of them, some heartbreakingly. Against Meath in 1996 a last second desperation kick somehow bounced over the bar in a bizarre twist to deny them victory and Meath won the replay.

In the All-Ireland final this year they conceded two own goals, an unheard of event in the annals of the GAA, yet pulled out a draw in the last second.

The curse, however, was acting up again for the replay.

Last Saturday certainly fell into that category when Dublin pipped Mayo by the minimum margin of one point after a titanic struggle and a first game that ended tied. Again a bizarre incident swung the game.

For some unknown reason Mayo's rookie manager Stephen Rochford replaced his goalkeeper for the replay. Paddy Clarke had been outstanding in the first game, and there was lots of head scratching before the game as a result.

His replacement was Rob Hennelly, a fine goalkeeper on his best day, but Saturday was not one of those. Sure enough the game revolved around a simple high ball into Hennelly, who somehow dropped it and then conceded a penalty trying to stop a Dublin forward from scoring.  Dublin scored the penalty and won the game.

So near and yet so far for the men from the west, who have the greatest supporters in Ireland who traveled in huge numbers to Dublin last Saturday for the replay.

You could tell by the utter dejection after the game just how heavily the defeat weighed on the minds of Mayo players and supporters.

The Curse of '51 allegedly prevents Mayo from winning the Sam Maguire ever again, or at least until the death has occurred of every member of the last winning team from 1951. There are two still living.

The legend claims that the winning 1951 team were celebrating on the bus and were passing through the tiny town of Foxford on the way home.

A funeral was in progress and the rowdy Mayo team paid no attention to it, the legend goes, but continued with their merry ways.  The local priest consequently put a curse on Mayo football to never win a subsequent All-Ireland final until all members of the 1951 team were dead.

In subsequent years the curse has held through bizarre losses, strange occurrences and, as seen last Saturday, downright crazy decisions. 

Maybe the curse will finally let up soon.  Following the death of Father Peter Quinn in January 2016, there are only two living members of the 1951 All Ireland winning team, Pádraig Carney and Paddy Prendergast.

Carney lives in California these days, famous as the “Flying Doctor” who flew home from America back when that was a very big deal indeed, in 1951, to play in the final. His son Cormac Carney was an outstanding wide receiver for UCLA and is now a federal judge.

“It's not normal what happens to us in Croke Park,” said a Mayo supporter quoted on

Do you believe in miracles? Or will the curse continue next year?  For Mayo people everywhere, let’s hope not.