Before Mayo played Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final, they believed that they would win, just as they believed that they would defeat Tyrone in the quarter-final.
Now that they are in an All-Ireland final their mindset may have changed from one of belief, to one of doubt, or maybe even resignation ahead of what they will believe is defeat. This could be the case particularly if the spectre of the curse on Mayo rears its head again.
Sports-related curses are superstitious beliefs in the effective action of some power or evil. These curses are used to explain failures or misfortunes of players or team. The inability to win a championship is a common one in the GAA.
Soccer teams like Birmingham, Benfica, Portadown and Derby county have been cited as suffering from curses which have limited their chances of success.
In gaelic games, Mayo have allegedly been suffering from the curse of ‘51. This curse was put upon them in 1951 (their last All-Ireland final win) when, on their way home, the team’s celebrations were so boisterous that they failed to respect a funeral ceremony.
In the 2006 final, (I was involved) it was said the curse was initiated by travellers whose funeral was disrupted. Yet in 2013 it was said that the priest officiating at the funeral initiated the curse. The details of the curse were that the Mayo would not win an All-Ireland title until all the members of the 1951 squad had passed on. There is still at least on surviving member.
Since 1951, Mayo have appeared in seven All-Ireland finals and lost all of them. The curse is essentially like the ‘bogey team’ effect. Have you ever, when you’re about to face an opponent, said either that ‘they always beat us’, or ‘we can never beat them’. The result is that they beat you again. It is a ‘mindset’ situation really, and it is self imposed and self-defeating.
In 1996 a freak Meath point forced a final replay, and in that replay Mayo conceded a late score to lose.
In 2006 Conor Mortimer, eight minutes into the game and with Mayo two points down, opted not to point a 14 metre free in front of the goals. Instead he tried to pass to a team mate for a goal. But the pass was poor. Mayo never settled after that and lost another final.
In 2013, against Dublin, Cillian O’Connor had a 14 metre free. Time was up so he converted the free instead of trying to blast a goal to win the game.
These two examples of the players’ mindsets controlling their actions by reminding them that Mayo doesn’t win finals.
In Bruce Lipton’s book, ‘The Biology of Belief’ he cites a personal case of a visit to a Kinesiologist (muscle tester) he was told to hold out an arm and resist the gentle pressure applied to it by the chiropractor’s hand. Bruce resisted with ease and did so again when asked to resist while loudly calling out ‘my name is Bruce’. But when asked to recite ‘my names is Mary’ to his amazement his arm flopped despite his strong reistance. He repeated the exercise and his arm flopped again due to ‘Mary’.
When your conscious thinking mind has a belief (for example win the final) that’s in conflict with a formerly learned truth (emotional, subconscious mind), the intellectual conflict (’win the final’, versus the subconscious ‘we never win finals’), the intellectual conflict expresses itslef as a weakening of the body’s muscles and so ‘game performance’ is negatively affected. Thus the conscious mind is not in control when expressing opinions which are different from our subconcsious fundamental beliefs. Thus one’s subconscious mind is really your co-pilot in life focusing on what you fundamentally want to happen. As a result, it is more powerful than your conscious mind.
As young children, we carefully observe your parents’ world and so download their parental worldly wisdom into our young minds. As a result, parents’ behaviour/belief become the child’s own. So if Mayo players have been listening for years to ‘we don’t win finals’, well what else will happen?
This year I feel that Mayo can win the All-Ireland title for five reasons.
1. Quality – The bulk of the squad have won an All-Ireland u-21 title and all in the squad have been in one to three senior finals. The veterans like David Clarke, Andy Moran, Alan Dillon and Keith Higgins make up a quality blend, along with the young stars of the O’Shea brothers, Tom Parsons, Lee Keegan and Cillian O’Connor.
2 Unity – Last season this squad effectively got rid of their manager. They feel they can win an All-Ireland title and by their players revolt action they have affirmed that they are together. That solid show of unity came as they attempt to gain All-Ireland success this year by winning for themselves.
3 Discipline – A poor league campaign and a very surprising Connacht final defeat simply endorsed that they have disciplined themselves to seek nothing else but an All-Ireland title. A bonus game against Tyrone steeled that discipline and allows them to have even more belief that they canww in the title this year.
4. Focus – An All-Ireland title is their sole aim and their focus has been maintained, even strengthened, by their new management team of Stephen Rochford, Tony McEntee, and Donie Buckley (Kerry). Team and management have fused into one focused unit.
5 . Luck – They were particularly unlucky in the 1996, 2006 and 2013 finals. In this year’s final they will provoke luck to make it happen.
Their quality, unity, discipline, focus and luck of this year will have their head right when it counts, and in games played with the body, it’s the head that counts.
For Mayo it’s time to believe it or not.