This might look like a sporting piece at first sight but it is much more than that. On the surface it deals with my Junetime prediction that once again the GAA footballers from Mayo will this year fail to win the All-Ireland final in September and bring the Sam Maguire cup home in triumph to the banks of the Moy.
But there is much more than that involved. We are also dealing here with sociology and history and probably the consequences of generations and centuries of heavy emigration and loss and, quite frankly, before any of ye say it or think it whilst reading, I know well that I am somewhat out of my depth.
I swear I would prefer to be a Fermanagh man than a supporter of the Mayo footballers who, though constantly flattering to deceive in the early stages of the championship, always come up losers in the end.
My county has never even won an Ulster title never mind Sam Maguire, and we have already been defeated by Antrim in the Ulster Championship this year. We well know what it is like to be knocked out in the early rounds and, latterly, what it feels like to be beaten again in the subsequent back door qualifiers.
It has to be infinitely worse than that to be a supporter of magnificent Mayo teams -- I have seen many of them over the years -- who, after flamboyantly winning all the provincial battles, somehow always contrive to lose All-Ireland finals that they should easily win.
It is a heartbreaking sporting scenario that repeats itself over and over again since their last triumph in the middle of the last century. And, sadly, it is set to happen again this year.
This is being written in the aftermath of Mayo's dour and sour enough triumph over Roscommon in Hyde Park in the first home round of the Connacht Championship. They will, as always, move on from there through the provincial deciders, showing improvement all the time, displaying skill and energy and determination especially against Western neighbors -- and will almost certainly be crowned again as Connacht champions.
If not they will cruise easily through the qualifiers to eventually arrive in Croke Park for the All-Ireland final as the leaves of next September begin to yellow and fall. And they too will fall again as surely as that.
If I am wrong in this prediction I hereby promise to travel up to Mayo to publicly and abjectly apologize to every member of the panel that has made a fool of me (yet again!)
But that won't happen I am certain. They will fall and fail yet again and break the hearts of their loyal followers.
The vital question is why does this happen time and again. Are we in the zone where a proud county whose countless emigrants have contributed more than any other western county to the development and growth of the United States have, by their leaving, somehow taken away with them some crucial iota of Mayo's genetic core?
Has America's perennial benefit across all the facets of life and living been acquired at Mayo's cost at least in terms of the county's lack of success in the sporting code which matters most to its surviving population?
As I confessed above I do not have either the academic or indeed intellectual artillery to deal with such a complex issue, and I would welcome assistance from qualified sources anywhere on this problem.
But what I do know as a keen GAA follower all my life is that Mayo's footballers, time and time again, somehow contrive to snatch defeat from the jaws of expected and deserved victory in a unique fashion. How and why does that happen?
Their teams of gifted individuals typically stride out of Connacht as imposing and deserved champions. They play a determined and united brand of football, especially against "derby" neighboring counties like Galway perhaps especially.
They cross the Shannon and often enhance their reputations by brilliant displays in the semifinals which take them and their faithful followers to Croke Park for the biggest game of the year, the one that matters.
And here year after heartbreaking year for their fans they lose despite often palpably being the better of the two teams in action. It beggars belief, but it is the kind of enduring situation which enables me to confidently predict in the early summer that Sam Maguire will elude them again in September.
I know the county and its people very well from all the years of covering all its stories for the late Irish Press. On the ground there is a great county pride and a splendid community spirit. They are a mighty race and supremely protective and supportive of each other in all situations both good and bad.
The standard of their club football is second to none, and the clubs produce wave after wave of gifted players which form county sides good enough to win Sam Maguire for about any other county.
But there is always something missing when the crunch comes on over the last furlong, and that has to be the most intriguing mystery in the GAA world.
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