“The truth was staring us in the face all along”
One unassailable fact in GAA lore is that the Mayo GAA men’s senior team has reached the All-Ireland final eight times since 1989 but hasn’t won the trophy since 1951. Every GAA fan across the country is also familiar with the story of a so-called curse supposedly put on the winning team returning to Mayo with the Sam Maguire Trophy, having beaten Meath. It’s said that the team, travelling in the back of a truck, were cursed by a priest (possibly from Meath) because they didn’t pay due respects to a passing funeral in the town of Foxford. According to the curse Mayo GAA was not to win another All-Ireland Football Final until all members of the team were dead.
Our very own Tom Murphy, a Castlebar, County Mayo native – and an ardent Mayo GAA fan, has invested heavily, both of his time and money, researching this story’s veracity. His research team has just delivered its findings and Tom says the curse is total poppycock.
According to Tom, “Mayo has had three All Ireland winning sides, 1936, 1950 and 1951. My researchers (they included a retired Garda detective superintendent) closely inspected all of the successful panels, trying to find a clue to their success. They looked at their conformation, family lineage and genetics, diet and training regimes. Local newspaper archives, match programmes and old photographs were all gone through forensically. Our research HQ at our De Facto offices resembled a cross between a scene from the TV programmes CSI and Crimecall.
“Lead after lead proved to be a dud. Our team could find no common thread, absolutely nothing, until our youngest researcher, a recent NUI Galway graduate and hipster, looking at one of the team photographs, commented how unusual it was that ‘back then, no one had a beard’. That was our ‘Eureka!’ moment. A celebratory drink was had, I can tell you. Afterwards we went back over every one of those old photographs and there it was, staring us in the face – the successful Mayo teams of old were all clean shaven.
“I contend that there’s no such thing as the Mayo GAA curse. There is such a thing as a winning formula though, and that includes being clean shaven. It’s scientifically demonstrable that a clean-shaven face reduces the drag coefficient of an athlete. That’s why sprinters, cyclists and swimmers shave their body hair. It gives them the winning edge. It’s ironic that I have spent years perfecting my De Facto shaving oil in Mayo, a shaving solution that possibly brought Olympic glory to some, while I then spent weekends sharing my disappointment as successive Mayo teams failed to bring Sam home. It’s obvious to me that De Facto could be Mayo’s winning secret. To test my theory, I’m offering a supply of De Facto shaving oil to every Mayo team member in the hope that they will all tog out, not a whisker out of place, and finally put the story of the curse where it belongs, in the grave.
“In the light of these findings I’m asking all GAA commentators, Brolley, Morrisey, Hurley, Cahill et al, to stop propagating the myth of the curse. It’s fake news. The truth is out there, right on the pitches and faces in front of them. They can see for themselves clean-shaven players passing out the beards, time and time again. Today, I’m asking the Mayo GAA management and players to heed these research findings, next weekend to tog out without facial hair, and for the love of Mayo, bring Sam home.”