Triple goal blast sees Mayo end famine at last
No team has endured the heartbreak that Mayo have suffered at Croke Park over the past two decades in particular when their litany of so near yet so far escapades in terms of landing major honours made them football's perennial also-rans.
But yesterday Mayo fans were back in their thousands to hail an all too rare triumph as their beloved county scaled a new peak by beating Kerry by 3-11 to 2-10 in the Allianz League final.
It was a dream day for the men from the west who trailed by 2-3 to0-5 at half-time with Gavin Crowley and Stephen O'Brien landing Kerry's goals before turning in a power-packed second-half performance which was highlighted by goals from Matthew Ruane, Diarmuid O'Connor and substitute Ciaran Tracey.
Mayo, as only they can, made life difficult for themselves at times but when they engaged overdrive Kerry simply could not live with them.
The match was delicately balanced for a spell though but Mayo's stamina, pace and resilience were such that they brought the Kingdom to their knees.
Even the loss of Aidan O'Shea to a red card did not discomfit Mayo as time and again they launched blistering counter-attacks and in a dramatic finale it was Tracey's well-taken goal that was to prove the icing on the cake in what was a memorable occasion for his side.
It was entirely appropriate, too, that the exquisite pass which landed in Tracey''s path should have been delivered by 35-year-old Andy Moran, one of Mayo's most venerable warriors, who had been introduced from the bench. Tracey's finishing flourish is now destined to enter Mayo sporting folklore.
Eighteen years have elapsed since Mayo last won the league and now their focus will switch to the 'big one' which they last captured in 1951.
Meanwhile, there is simply no stopping the hurlers of Limerick. Having ended a lengthy famine by winning the All-Ireland title last August, they turned on the style again yesterday to claim the Allianz Hurling League crown.
This time it was Waterford who bore the brunt of a fired-up side that took their inspiration from man of the match Aaron Gillane in winning by 1-24 to 0-19.
Gillane helped himself to 1-9 - and still managed to hit nine wides!
It was his marksmanship and particularly his well-taken goal before half-time that ultimately demoralised Waterford for whom
Stephen Bennett and Graeme Mulcahy tried hard.
But having trailed by 1-12 to 0-10 at half-time, they could not match Limerick in the second half. On this offering, Limerick provided evidence that they may prove difficult to separate from their All-Ireland title.