Mayo’s London trip long-haul
SO, ALMOST two weeks after the event, you’re still wondering how the Mayo footballers came within minutes of crash-landing out of the Connacht championship against lowly London? There is one theory doing the rounds: jetlag!
Mayo’s travelling itinerary on the Saturday before the game has drawn a gobsmacked reaction from some long-suffering devotees of the greenand- red.
Basically, it can be distilled down as follows: a coach journey to Galway from where they took off on a 3pm flight, touching down in Waterford for approximately 15 minutes to pick up some additional passengers (without having to leave the plane) and then another take-off and onward flight to Southend.
For all you Lonely Planet heads, Southend is in south-east Essex while Mayo’s match the following day was in Ruislip, over 73 miles away (according to the AA website) on the western edge of Greater London. On landing, the squad travelled by coach to their hotel – a 90-minute trip, give or take. They arrived at around 7pm – in plenty of time to see the Champions League final, you might reasonably surmise – but Mayo GAA cyberspace has still been hopping with the story. Quite a few of them were hopping mad, too.
Willie Joe, the man behind the mayogaablog.com website, dubbed it the “Wanderly Wagon” route and said it was “too stupid to make up”, adding: “This fixture was known about since well before Christmas, so there’s no excuse for not having direct flights from Knock to Stansted, Luton or wherever sorted months ago.”
Seeking answers, Solo Run contacted Mayo county board secretary Sean Feeney who made the following points.
The original flight booking was made last January, at which point Aer Arann used to fly directly into Luton – but that flight had changed in the interim, redirecting them to Southend via Waterford.
Responding to the many critics who cited the Knock option, Feeney countered: “If they knew anything about Knock Airport they would know there are no flights back on a Sunday (from the various London airports) to cater for an aftermatch flight … the only way you could get out of Knock was if you chartered a plane.”
The option of flying back on Monday was seen as a non-runner because of work commitments, while a couple of players who were sitting exams on the Monday flew via Dublin.
“It was all discussed with management on several occasions and it was agreed to,” Feeney concluded.
Last word goes to another poster on the aforementioned website, who noted a “prophetic” headline in the previous week’s Mayo Advertiser newspaper: “From Mayo to London, via Toronto.” Maybe they could check out that option for 2016...