They went to Croke Park to perform, to win, so Pat Holmes’s team took no consolation from their heroic failure. But whatever emotional hurt that Mitchels felt after their seven-point defeat to the Dublin kingpins was nothing compared to the physical pain endured that day by their talented young defender Paddy Durcan.
The then 20-year-old had been troubled by blisters on the soles of his feet since he was a teenager, and the problem often flared up during high-intensity games.
As luck would have it, on March 17, 2014 he was in sheer agony.
“Unfortunately, that day my blisters were really bad and I was in serious pain”, says Durcan, who made his senior inter-county debut with Mayo last January.
“My feet cut up really badly during that game and, I know it probably sounds terrible, but I didn’t even want to come back out for the second half. I was just in so much pain.
“It was very disappointing, I’d trained so hard to get there and I just wanted to perform. But when I went in at half-time I just couldn’t believe the extent of the cuts. My feet were in bits.
“It was just so hard to focus then on the second half, and it affected my performance. And the worst thing was that it was uncontrollable. There was nothing I could do.”
Durcan’s explosive footballing style and hard-running game also complicates the problem, and the DCU student continues to wrap his feet carefully before big games with college, club and county.
He has also travelled far and wide in search of a more permanent solution.
“I’ve been over in Belgium to see a specialist and I’ve been all over Ireland too, trying to get it sorted out.
“I’ve seen specialists, tried about 10 different kinds of insoles, I’ve spoken to dermatologists, but nothing has worked.
“Earlier this year I did some running mechanics with the Mayo physios, basically teaching me how to run properly. “That has helped a little bit, just correcting how I was running and landing on my feet. But it hasn’t gone away completely.
“I strap my feet up every night before training, and I strap them up before games, and I’m just trying to manage it as best I can.”
This week Paddy Durcan and his Castlebar team-mates are preparing for a Connacht Club SFC semi-final against Roscommon’s Clann na nGael.
The Mayo champions are overwhelming favourites to advance to a second provincial final in three seasons, an opinion based largely on their impressive county final win over an O’Shea-powered Breaffy last month.
Durcan says Clann na nGael are an unknown quantity, but he knows one of their main men, Ultan Harney, extremely well.
“I’m very good friends with Ultan, he’s in college with me in DCU and we’d spend a lot of time together,” he said.
“I don’t know a lot about Clann na Gael as a team, but I’m sure management will have us well briefed by Sunday. We’re probably getting a bit more praise than we deserve after the county final, but to beat Clann we’ll have to perform,” he says.
Paddy Durcan turned 21 in September, but hasn’t had a chance yet to mark the occasion properly due to his football commitments with Mitchels and Mayo.
“I really enjoyed the year but if I keep my head down and work hard I feel I can improve,” he says.