Longford hoping for influx of Mayo fans

Mayo Minor player Matthew Flanagan with family members as Geraldine Terrace was renamed Matthew Flanagan Street as part of the Little Mayo initiatve. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
Longford town has rebranded itself as ‘Little Mayo’ as it looks to welcome the thousands travelling east to Sunday’s All-Ireland football finals.

Longford town has rebranded itself as ‘Little Mayo’ as it looks to welcome the thousands travelling east to Sunday’s All-Ireland football finals.

Swinford native Val O’Connor doesn’t miss a Mayo game in league or championship and he believes they can capture double glory at the expense of Dublin and Tyrone in the senior and minor deciders, respectively.

“We’re more gritty and have a bit of confidence. We’re now going into all matches believing we can win them,” the florist confidently predicted.

A pharmacist for 22 years in Longford, Padraic Ward and his son James are heading to Croker and he feels it won’t be a ‘choker’ for long suffering Mayo fans. “New manager James Horan has instilled a sense of confidence.” He spoke to people who watched Mayo train in Newtownforbes and in Pearse Park and they were amazed at the intensity of the training sessions.

Star Mayo forward Cillian O’Connor, who has been declared available for selection, is his cousin and Padraic predicts Mayo will clip the Dubs with 1-2 to spare!

‘Little Mayo’ is a local authority, Chamber of Commerce and Longford Business Forum initiative, and Irene Guilfoyle (née Flanagan), aunt of Mayo minor player Matthew, thinks it is a fantastic concept. “It is lovely. The people of Longford are to be commended.”

Geraldine Terrace has been temporarily named Matthew Flanagan Street and Matthew’s mother Margaret is native of Newtowncashel. Irene, who is a GAA season ticket holder, has followed Mayo through thick and thin. A resident of Claremorris, she’ll be stopping off in Longford this weekend.

Former councillor Pat Stenson, now aged 73, was born in Cong, but two hundred metres over the border in Galway, yet he is intense about Mayo winning the Sam Maguire Cup. “I can remember their win back in 1951 and I believe Mayo’s time has come.”

As part of the Little Mayo initiative, there will be a ‘Blue and Gold’ photographic exhibition documenting Longford GAA over the past forty years on Saturday. The display will be in a shop unit opposite the Annaly Hotel. The unit will also host an exhibition of art (sponsored by Tesco) with a GAA theme from sixth class pupils around the county.