Taoiseach invites 1951 heroes to final

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny will have three special guests with him when he turns out to support his native Mayo in Sunday's All-Ireland SFC final against Dublin at Croke Park.

Taoiseach invites 1951 heroes to final

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny will have three special guests with him when he turns out to support his native Mayo in Sunday's All-Ireland SFC final against Dublin at Croke Park.

The three surviving members of the last Mayo team to win the All-Ireland back in 1951 - Paddy Prendergast, Fr Peter Quinn and Pádraig Carney - have been invited to join the Taoiseach for the county's latest tilt at lifting the Sam Maguire Cup.

On September 23, 1951, Mayo emerged as 2-8 to 0-9 victors over Meath with Prendergast playing at full-back, Quinn at left half-back and Carney listed at centre-forward. Carney scored 0-5 (0-4f) that day.

Last year's defeat to Donegal marked Mayo's sixth time to be All-Ireland runners-up in 22 years - they have had to cope with falling at the final hurdle in 1989, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2006 and 2012 - but Enda Kenny believes the current Connacht champions have what it takes to end that losing streak.

"James Horan and his team have done a magnificent job here. I think last year's defeat was a lesson learned by Mayo. I think they're in a place where they can certainly win this," Kenny told the Mayo News.

"This is going to be a lifetime ambition and achievement for all these young men, for the entire panel. I think this is going to be great.

"I'm travelling all the counties of Ireland and there’s not a single county that will begrudge Mayo a win but you've got to win it on the pitch, on the scoreboard. You've got to get the ball over the bar, get the goals when they come.

"They have to win it. Nobody is going to show you any sympathy on the pitch. There's no place to hide anymore. Our panel, our team, are more than capable of doing this."

Kenny has his own All-Ireland links of course, with his father Henry an All-Ireland winner with Mayo back in 1936 and just a fortnight ago his teenage son Naoise won the All-Ireland Minor 'C' Hurling Championship with his Mayo side.

The Taoiseach also dismissed as 'nonsense' the supposed curse that was placed on the Mayo footballers in 1951 after the then All-Ireland winners passed by a funeral in Foxford and failed to pay due respects to the funeral procession.

The local priest at the time was incensed by this and legend has it that he placed a curse on Mayo that they would not win another All-Ireland until all of the 1951 team had died.

Current Foxford priest, Fr Padraig Costello, said there is 'no basis in this curse story' - even checking the parish records for any mention of it.

But thankfully for any superstitious supporters, Fr Costello has given the current Mayo team an official blessing at the bridge over the Moy where his predecessor allegedly imposed the curse 62 years ago.

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