Wouldn’t you think a place like Mayo with all its Holy-Mary shrines and magic mountains would be able to shake off a sixty-year-old curse ? Ah, it just goes to show the power these priesty fellas had back in the Fifties that one single cleric was able to prevent an entire county from winning the All-Ireland football final.
What happened? Well, it seems that when Mayo last won the trophy, back in 1951, they failed to show proper respect as the team bus passed a funeral. I don’t know exactly what that means but I think it’s unlikely they mooned the mourners or anything like that. More probably, they were a little excited as they headed home with their prize, and perhaps a little intoxicated as well, but either way, the priest got the hump and cursed them.
Never again shall Mayo win the Sam Maguire cup until every member of this team is dead, he thundered. Or words to that effect.
And so it came to pass, and so it is that Mayo yet again fell at the final hurdle, and Donegal collected Sam.
Of course, that was an Ireland where parish priests toured the dancehalls with a trusty blackthorn stick, enforcing obedience on the compliant faithful and making sure nobody got too carried away. Those were the days when people took the lads in the collars seriously, and it would come as no surprise if the alleged curse managed to demoralise the Mayo players for a decade or more, out of sheer terror of the clergy.
But when it lasts sixty years, you’d have to start taking it seriously, wouldn’t you?
There are five surviving members of the victorious Mayo team, Mick Mulderrig, Pádraig Carney, Paddy Prendergast, Peter Quinn and John McAndrew, and they have reason to worry. These five lads must be asking the obvious question: will some breakaway militant faction of the Mayo County Board decide to hunt them down like dogs and end the curse?
It won’t happen without a fight. They might be getting on in years, but these are tough boys. They won’t lie down and take it, so if you happen to be passing through some corner of Mayo and you spot five octogenarians in combat fatigues, perhaps scaling the Reek with backpacks and rifles, or maybe sprinting down the middle of the main runway at Knock, you know what’s going on. The Sam Maguire Five have gone back into training.
They’re mean, they’re lean and they’re pissed off. Not only that, but they have powerful allies in other counties with a vested interest in making sure they live forever. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Sam Maguire Five sought asylum in Kerry or Donegal. It wouldn’t surprise me if researchers in Cork redoubled their efforts to come up with a potion for everlasting life, but of course, it could all be a high-powered game of double bluff.
Who’s to say that Dublin won’t offer them asylum only to imprison them in a cryogenic stasis capsule hidden in a vast, secret underground cavern beneath St Vincent’s?
This could get serious.