Mayo focus switches to New York and the 'carnival atmosphere' of Gaelic Park

Jason Doherty recalls their last trip to the Bronx in 2014.

The Mayo team stand for the National Anthem before their 2014 clash against the Exiles.
The Mayo team stand for the National Anthem before their 2014 clash against the Exiles.
Image: Andy Marlin/INPHO

IN THE AFTERMATH of Mayo’s league final victory on Sunday, it was notable how the players and backroom team celebrated with the cup.

In recent years we’ve been conditioned to watching the winning captain almost sheepishly lift the trophy followed by muted celebrations on the field. But winning the Division 1 title meant an awful lot to Mayo and their supporters.

“It’s certainly satisfying to come in after winning a national title in Croke Park,” says Jason Doherty.

“It’s a great buzz, probably better than I expected to be honest with you. It’s better to come in after winning.

“Something that stuck out to us the last day was just how much green and red there was in Croker. They held on after the game and they were everywhere.

“Seeing them lash it out and grown men cry was just a great feeling. They deserve it every bit as much as the players that had put in the effort.   

“The last day might bring out a few more. We definitely feed off that. We’re all on a similar journey since Horan first came in in 2011. There is a core group there that have developed a strong consistent level of performance in terms of contesting All-Ireland finals.

“Winning Connacht titles, contesting All-Ireland semi-finals for the last eight, nine years. Very much on that journey with us.

“The buzz you get, just something the last day that stood out. The Green and Red of Mayo playing out in Croker just seeing the amount of Mayo fans there was. The top tiers, the middle tiers, they were everywhere.

“Just seeing them singing, lashing that out I suppose, seeing grown men cry was a great feeling. They deserved it every bit as much as the players that but in that effort as well.”

Robert Hennelly and Jason Doherty celebrate with fans Robert Hennelly and Jason Doherty celebrate with fans. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Mayo’s record in national finals since 2001 has been well-documented at this stage. Doherty echoed Diarmuid O’Connor’s post-game assessment that Mayo treated this game as “as round eight of the league.”

“It was very much a focus to treat it as another game,” he adds. 

The only downside to that approach was many players were due in work the following morning. 

“Unfortunately it meant I didn’t book work off on Monday, a number of lads were in the same position and we regretted it afterwards.

“But that’s genuinely how we went into the game, play the game, win it and we move on the next week.

“Ultimately it probably meant more than we thought it did afterwards and obviously had a sore head on Monday but that was definitely worth it. This kind of launches us now into championship on a positive note.”

Mayo will return to collective training on the field tomorrow night before they break away for club duty.

It means the five-week run into the Connacht opener against New York will come around quickly.

We were back in the gym (on Tuesday night). Had a dirty gym session, because we’re not meeting up again until Friday for a pitch session. So we had the gym (Tuesday) night and last night.

“Friday will probably be the first collective review of the game. We’ll do a pitch session, and like any pitch session we’ll be moving on from it.

“That great satisfaction from winning the last day is probably a sign that the last five months of effort and training and bits that we’re trying to improve, there’s something being done right.

Launch of Physio Led Personal Training at Sports Physio Ireland Jason Doherty at the launch of Physio Led Personal Training at Sports Physio Ireland. SPI gym was fitted out by Model Construction, Killeen Rd, Dublin. Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

“We’ve made progress, there’s development there in terms of the amount of players we’ve played, and consistency. Winning the league shows you’ve been relatively consistent through the early parts of the year. That’s probably the most pleasing part, to be honest.”

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Mayo’s last visit to the Bronx came in 2014, during Horan’s last tenure in charge and Doherty knows what to expect.

“I was five years younger then so I suppose I was bit greener but it’s very much a carnival atmosphere there and you’re playing small venues on an astro pitch that you’re not used to in front of a crowd from all over the world.

“Obviously there’s a far few Mayo people over there but it’s very different to a club pitch in Mayo, or even MacHale Park, or even Croke Park, but it’s still very enjoyable because sometimes when everyone is in those packed venues, smaller venues with packed crowds, can be just as good of an atmosphere as Croke Park would give you that buzz.

“It’s very different but it’s enjoyable and you get to spend four or five days with the lads, prepping, play the game, get the win and move on. 

“Even before the last day, everyone I talk to seems to be heading over so I haven’t been asked (for tickets) yet surprisingly but there seems to be a fair few heading over.”

Doherty has played the past few games with his left elbow heavily strapped but says it’s an issue he expects to be cleared up by the start of the championship.

“I hyper-extended it a number of weeks ago. I haven’t had any break to actually fix it. It is fine day to day, it is just literally when I’m tackling if I hyperextend it.

“Either extend it out or curl it in, I get a nasty awakening. It’s sound, hopefully, now I’ll get a break. Even though now we have club games trying to figure out when it will go away for good because it is just a pain in the arse, to be honest.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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