Tuesday 25 October 2016

Ballymun's man of God praying for one thing - a Mayo win

Fr Gerry French
Fr Gerry French

He may be saying mass in Bally- mun, but die-hard Mayo fan Fr Gerry French will be praying for a Mayo victory today.

Fr French, who is from Claremorris, has been based in Ballymun for the past decade, but he has not been converted to the Boys in Blue.

During the build-up to the drawn final and then the replay, he said he has enjoyed some light-hearted teasing with his congregation.


"There's great banter about it. The Ballymun Kickhams are a very strong club and four or five of the Dublin panel are from there, so it's great fun," he said.

"I've a special Mayo stole. I haven't worn it in Ballymun yet, but I might wear it after they win."

Fr French went to the final last month with some parishioners who had never been to Croke Park.

"They couldn't get over how friendly everyone was towards one another considering the teams were so strident towards one another," he said.

Fr French has attended every All-Ireland final for the past 40 years, but will miss today's clash.

"I go to all the games regardless of who's playing. I'd be a follower of the GAA rather than just a fan of the team," he said.

"For the first time in 40 years I'll be missing a match because I'm in hospital, but I'll be watching it on television."

While he is anxious about the outcome, Fr French believes the boys in red and green might just break 65 years of bad luck today.

"There's an opportunity - the favourites usually win replays, but this time Mayo have a lot of spirit and I know they'll definitely play well," he said.

"If they do, it would be great. I might have to postpone getting to Mayo this time for a week, but the celebrations will still be going on."

Meanwhile, in Mayo, 77-year-old Mary Gray is hoping to relive the Mayo victory she celebrated as an 11-year-old and has been looking for some divine intervention ahead of the throw-in.

"I remember all the commotion when they won. I was just a young girl but it was wonderful. I never thought I'd be waiting 65 years for the next one. It's too long to wait for any fan," she said.

"I've been busy praying that they'll finally win this time. The posters stay up until they do and I hope they'll take Sam down to me."

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