The 2006 clash between Mayo and Dublin was a classic.
The talk in the Sunday Game studio before the the 2006 All Ireland Semi, was of how Dublin were going to dominate Mayo from the off. Colm O’Rourke even said that some Mayo fans would have been happy if their team ‘put up a good show.’ Joe Brolly agreed, arguing that unless Mayo stemmed the early Dublin whirlwind, ‘it could turn into a rout’.
O’Rourke and Brolly were not the only pundits to voice such an opinion. Mayo after all had never beaten Dublin in the Championship and had suffered a number of heavy defeats in Croke Park.
However the tables would turn that afternoon. Before Dublin had even a chance to launch their anticipated early onslaught, in a move Joe Brolly described as an ’empty gesture’, Mayo ran onto the field and began warming up in front of the hill.
Eyebrows were immediately raised, as Mayo conducted their pre game drills in front of the Dublin supporters. Although it looked like a psychological ploy, Conor Mortimer said afterwards, ‘I didn’t know anything about it… I think beforehand somebody came in and said Dublin were warming up at that end… I think David Brady said, “No, fuck it, we’ll go down that side”, so then we went down’.
Ciaran McDonald backed up Mortimer’s claim that the decision was a spontaneous one. The Mayo legend said, ‘We came out of the dressing room and we just went left after coming out of the tunnel. We got down there and people said there’d be Holy Hell. A few of the senior lads were saying what are we going to do. I said we had to stay now, we couldn’t be going up the field like a shower of pups’.
Nevertheless, what ensued has gone done in Mayo footballing folklore. Dublin got wind of Mayo’s antics and started walking down to the Hill 16 end arm in arm. Mayo though held firm, as Dublin had no option but to conduct their pre game drills alongside Mayo.
Balls were flying everywhere, as Dublin manager, Paul Caffrey, slammed into Mayo trainer John Morrisson. The inevitable happened, when one of the stray footballs struck Mayo dietician, Mary McNicolas, but with both teams refusing to budge, she received treatment while the teams continued to warm up around her.
In the end, not only did Mayo quench Dublin’s early fire but led by four points to no score after fifteen minutes. Although the Dubs came back into the game and looked as if they were going to pull away mid way through the second half, Mayo would not give in, as Ciaran McDonald provided the score that won this iconic contest.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena