One of the two finalists this year is Mayo. Mayo is a county in the west of Ireland. It is located just north of Galway, still within the province of Connacht.
This is Mayo’s first appearance in the final since 2006, where they lost to Kerry (the best footballing team in Ireland). They have a total of 3 wins in the All Ireland Finals with the most recent being in 1951 (also 1950 and 1936). They suffered the same fate in 2004 against Kerry as well.
Football is the dominant sport in the county (as opposed to Hurling, or being a dual county where each is equally important). For example, Kilkenny, one of the two Hurling finalist teams this year, did not even field a football team for the tournament. Mayo has a rich history of success in football, even with only 3 All Ireland championships to their credit. This is partially due to the proximity to Galway and the rivalry this created between the two counties. Both were able to produce quite successful teams throughout the years. In the Connacht Senior Championship both Mayo and Galway have won the title 44 times, with Mayo having won the last two years. The winner of this championship represents the province of Connacht in the All Ireland Championship. (Similar to a division or conference winner in the sports in the US). By winning, they gain an automatic place in the All Ireland Quarter-finals and do not have to play further qualifying matches.
Come Sunday, this is the team I, as well as a fair bit of my teammates, will be rooting for. Its proximity to Galway as well as Mayo being a part of the province of Connacht make it my clear choice in this years final, even though my heritage comes from a different part of Ireland(more to come on that once the sports hype and posts die down).
Donegal to come. Stay tuned.