Paddy Power create apparition of Virgin Mary holding Sam Maguire in Mayo

Paddy Power made a very cheeky venture to Mayo this week to provide the county's long suffering footballers with some divine inspiration ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final clash against the Kingdom, writes Ciara Phelan.

The bookie travelled to the holy shrine of Knock during the 138th anniversary of the Virgin Mary's appearance at the site to create an apparition of their very own.

A 70ft image of the Mother of Christ holding the Sam Maguire trophy was projected onto the front of Knock Basilica, in a bid, so they say, to inspire Stephen Rochford's men to victory at the weekend.

Mayo have been the nearly men of Gaelic Football in the modern era losing an astonishing eight All-Ireland football finals since 1989 including three of the last five.

Of course the county’s misfortune is not due to any shortcomings on the pitch but rather a curse that has been over the team since their last title way back in 1951.

According to legend, the Mayo team were travelling back to the west from Dublin along with the Sam Maguire and passed a funeral in the town of Foxford without stopping and paying their respects.

A priest put a curse on them that they would not win another All-Ireland until every member of that team had passed away.

Two members of their 1951 title winners remain alive today and they will have to break the curse if they are to finally end their barren run.

A spokesperson for Paddy Power, Féilim Mac An Iomaire, said: “As far as I’m aware Jesus’ mammy has never appeared in Dublin, Tyrone or Kerry so she’s definitely rooting for the Green and Red. However, as much as they love her in Knock we reckon they would still rather see Cillian O’Connor raising the Sam Maguire."

“Mayo’s problems on the pitch seem to stem from the church so the Virgin Mary’s reappearance in the county might be just what this team needs to pop its All-Ireland cherry."

And those backing Mayo 4 Sam will certainly be in the green, rather than the red, if they go all the way.

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