Mayo have taken arguably the rockiest road ever seen to the All-Ireland final as they face Dublin in what will be their tenth championship clash of the summer.
There have been highs and lows throughout, but here we have documented the key moments throughout their tumultuous summer.
Loss to Galway
Following an underwhelming league campaign and an expected win over Sligo, this was the first major test for Stephen Rochford’s men and they duly failed.
The Tribesmen looked a slicker outfit in a tight contest as home advantage perhaps saw them over the line in a 0-15 to 1-11 victory.
A return to the All-Ireland final never seemed so far away for Mayo as they headed for the back door with morale low.
Mayo play get-out-of-jail-card against Derry
If we told you that the Connacht outfit would run out 11-point winners over Derry in their qualifier you would have expected it to be all plain sailing. But this was far from the case as the Oak Leafers came away from Castlebar with a sense of ‘what might have been’, late drama in injury time ensuring that the 70 minutes ended 1-12 apiece.
Fitness was telling in extra time as the men from the west gathered pace, seeing the extra period out on a scoreline of 1-09 to 0-01.
Mayo play get-out-of-jail-card against Cork
Mayo had gathered momentum having avoided a potential banana skin to comfortably account for Clare in Ennis. The Rebels were coming off the back of a poor Munster campaign.
This was going to be a routine victory, right?
We never learn, really. Cork huffed and puffed, as Luke Connolly’s 77th minute free levelled proceedings, as the Rebels could have sneaked a winner in normal time, and indeed extra-time.
However, referee Ciaran Branagan’s somewhat controversial fulltime whistle ensured Mayo won out by the minimum margin.
Mayo play get-out…you know the rest. Roscommon this time.
There seems to be a pattern emerging here…
Roscommon raced into a 2-02 to 0-01 lead and it looked like Mayo had run out of luck. To their credit, they quickly recovered to efficiently claw their way back into contention and finished the stronger as a replay for the following Monday was chalked down.
Of the four initial quarter-finals before the replay it appeared that Aidan O’Shea and Co. were to get by the Rossies,
Finally, a statement is made
Most fancied Mayo to win the replay against Roscommon, but nobody could have predicted this!
4-19 and a message to the rest of the country later, and Mayo were back.
Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor, Keith Higgins and Kevin McLoughlin all raised green flags as the gear was certainly upped.
Bryan Sheehan lets Mayo off
It was all nicely falling into place for Kerry in the semi-final. With the teams locked at 2-14 each, the newly introduced Bryan Sheehan stepped over a 55-metre free to send the Kingdom in the final. The experienced Sheehan would normally be expected to send over such a shot, but the conditions paired with the pressure ensured that Mayo would live to fight another day.
How the hell do they keep doing this?
They just don’t do things the easy way, do they?
Week after week of uninspiring displays and countless strokes of luck, things finally clicked. League and Munster champions Kerry were sent packing as Mayo won through to earn another shot at the Dubs.
Andy Moran is defying age, Aidan O’Shea is back to his best, while the collective contribution is far greater.
Nine dominos have fallen, will the final one tip over and end a 66-year wait?
Make sure to check out the latest episode of The 16th Man podcast, where we hear from Marc Ó Sé as we look ahead to the All-Ireland football final.