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The story of the Mayo football team and the ‘curse’ on TG4

TG4 will be showing a new documentary on Sunday next, September 15th, at 8 pm, telling the story of the Mayo football team and the ‘curse’.

Entitled ‘Mayo God Help Us’ the TV show will feature interviews with two of the team from ’51 along with Anthony Finnerty who played in the 1989 All-Ireland Final.

On the 23rd September 2012, Mayo met Donegal in the All Ireland Football Final, hopes were raised throughout the county.

All over Mayo people held their breath, barely daring to believe that they could bring Sam home after a gap of over sixty years.

Two goals and a point for Donegal in the first twelve minutes put paid to those hopes.

In pubs all over the county could be heard those of spoken words ‘Mayo, God help us’. Had the ‘curse’ had once again dashed Mayo’s hopes?

The legendary curse dated from 1951, the last time Mayo raised the Sam Maguire.

The story goes that while passing through Foxford on their victorious drive home the team neglected to pay proper respect to a funeral.

Enraged, a local priest cursed the team and the county that while any member of the team of ’51 lived, Mayo would never win an All Ireland final.

Sixty-two years on and Mayo have yet to win again and only a handful of the team of ’51 remain.

Curse or coincidence?

 Padraig Carney, who won an All Ireland football medal with Mayo in 1950 and 1951, features in the TG4 programme, 'Mayo God Help Us', telling the story of the Mayo football team and the 'curse'.
Padraig Carney, who won an All Ireland football medal with Mayo in 1950 and 1951, features in the TG4 programme, ‘Mayo God Help Us’, telling the story of the Mayo football team and the ‘curse’.

Mayo God Help Us explores the legend of the curse and looks at Mayo football from ’51 to 2013, focusing particularly on this year’s campaign and looking forward to the upcoming final against Dublin.

It speaks to players from the Team of ’51, the younger generations, fans, priests and pundits and asks the question – can Mayo finally break the curse when they face Dublin on the 22nd of September?

This timely documentary explores the legend of the curse and speaks to players from that 1951 team, to the younger generations, to supporters, priests, and pundits.

These include players from the winning team of 1950 and 1951, Pádraig Carney and Paddy Prendergast.

Pádraig Carney says: “It was a tremendous thrill for me and an honour to feel that I could play for my county.”

And Paddy Prendergast adds: “We were a very disappointed team after losing in 1948 and 1949 so we felt if we don’t win it this year (1950) we’ll never bloody well win it.”

Also interviewed is Mayo GAA star of the 1980s and Moygownagh native, Anthony Finnerty, who recalls his scoring of a goal in the 1989 All Ireland final.

“With about five minutes into the second half, a high ball came into the square. Noel Durkin won a great ball, handed it to me and I just went in and let fly.

“It was a fantastic experience to score a goal in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day in front of your own supporters,” Anthony Finnerty recalls in the TG4 programme to be aired next Sunday, 15th September, at 8 pm on TG4.

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.