Talk of the county: The podcasts dedicated to Mayo GAA die-hard fanbase

Long before the proliferation of podcasts during the pandemic, football fans in Mayo (and Tyrone) have been listening to quality productions which drill down to the very core of the game in the their counties.
Talk of the county: The podcasts dedicated to Mayo GAA die-hard fanbase

PASSION PLAY: A fired-up supporter shows his delight after a Mayo score in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final win over Dublin. Podcasts have become a useful addition to the extensive coverage that the county has always craved and required. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Mad about Gaelic football. It fuels them and binds them. Saturday's final is not the sum and substance. In reality, it is just a tentpole. A conductor to facilitate the current. For these two counties, all the offshoots matter. The journey, the build-up. the hype. Most of all, the chat.

“Our podcast came from people saying, ‘you should do a podcast,’” says the man behind Ah Ref, the popular social media page dedicated to Mayo football.

“Myself and Enda (McGearty) started doing it on club football. Met up halfway from where we live, sit into the car, record it on the phone. No editing. Press record, talk for an hour. Finish up and before I head home, press upload to Spotify. Get home and it’s up. Share away then.

“It is pure rough. I think people appreciate it for what it is. Genuine. Two lads sitting back chatting football. No scripts or anything.

A lot of people around the country, especially in Mayo, they miss sitting in a pub and listening to two lads talk about football.

The page started as a source of scores, updates and craic. An outlet for the fanatics who desire results from the Junior B championship and pictures of local referees wearing cowboy hats.

Anonymity strengthened the cult.

Most of the players and a portion of diehard fans know the operator, but the wider public is unaware. Existing as an account rather than a person.

“It is nice to go to a game and no one knows who you are. I can go for a few pints, wobble around the street and no one will pay any heed to me,” he explains.

“There was a subculture there that probably wasn’t serviced, and we gathered it all in one package.

“It is the other side of it all. It is not like the rest of the mainstream media. We’ve 100,000 fans in Mayo stone mad for football. All parts of it.

“Tyrone and Mayo are similar in that. No other sports really. Quiet enough places to live and loads of people who are cracked for football. You’ll see that in Croke Park, but we’re like that all the time.”

Mayo football is serviced by numerous podcasts. Some serious, others jovial. All united in an accelerating commonality. Appetite that accentuates the Westerners year-round obsession.

“Inter-county is popular especially this time of year, but club is where it really takes off. The interaction levels around that are mental.

“I’d be primarily a club football man. Club football in Mayo is 20 times more entertaining than inter-county. Two entertaining games a year, sterile, don’t talk to media, don’t know who is on the squad or injured.

Club football is more open. Fans running onto the field or a rear up and you can talk away about it.

“I suppose we talk about inter-county the same way we do club. It is literally a game. It is my bio; it is only a game. I think people take it too seriously.

“There are enough serious things in life, enough people in hospital and the pandemic. We all have to get up and go to work, all that stuff. The whole organisation should be about enjoyment.”

Rob Murphy is a host on the Mayo News football podcast. For him, it is merely an addition to the extensive coverage that the county has always craved and required.

“Ours started inhouse with the Mayo News newspaper. Local journalists tend to be aware of all sides of the story. That stands to us.

“Before you turn around and say John Smith was horrendous, you might ring Paddy in the club and ask about John and he’ll tell you his foot was in a boot all week.

“So you say he was off form instead, even if you can’t say why. I think that is important. Our podcast started with journalists. In 2016 we teamed up with the Mayo GAA blog and John Gunnigan. A phenomenal story. Someone who created a safe space for Mayo fans to come online and have an open conversation with moderation. He had an enormous fanbase.

“From that point on, we purposely created a holistic coverage of Mayo. John and I are in the crowd, we have journalists in the press boxes and ex-players and coaches on to give expert analysis. Something for everyone.”

Nationally, the popularity of GAA podcasts is sky-high. Murphy does not see them as competition. Their show has a certain niche and a devoted audience. A perfect match.

The experiences of the Mayo supporter are storied and unique. Best shared by those who truly understand.

Most of the content had great pundits but centred around where these people were based. Inevitably that is big cities or certain counties.

“Conversations took trends that didn’t get into the nuance at all. For us, the talk was often desperation, poor old Mayo. Very surface level. Not wrong by any means, detachment can bring clarity, but it means there is a need for media within a county. Podcasts are just an evolution of that.

“Mayo fans are excitable, energetic, passionate people. They want to enjoy the final for what it is, and we say do it. Go for it. Just leave the players alone and you are fine. We think it is nonsense when people say Mayo people need to calm down. Why would you? Life is short. Let’s enjoy it.”

The podcasts are an extension of the ritual. One beat the county endlessly marches to. Gaelic football, the most important of all unimportant things.

The wins and losses, the joy and the pain, they are fleeting. The chat is constant. It will be there as comfort or added elation.

Helping them, collectively, prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best.

“As much as we talk about it, I haven’t even thought about what happens if we win,” says Ah Ref.

“We’ve been in this situation for 10 years now nearly. We’ve been here before. Just get to the match. Play the match. Hopefully, win the match.

“Then we can go off the wall.”

We’re all ears: The podcasts following Mayo and Tyrone GAA


Ah Ref Podcast: @RefComeOn. Hosted by Ah Ref and Enda McGearty. A predominately Mayo-focused show covering local and national matters. Self-described as “two lads in a pub talking about football.” Recorded once a week. Available on Spotify.

Mayo News Football Podcast: @Mayopodcast. Regulars include Rob Murphy, Edwin McGreal, Colin Sheridan, John Gunnigan and Billie Joe Padden. Comprehensive coverage with several episodes per week focusing on a variety of topics including the players’ perspective, coaches, and the fan view. Available on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Google, Soundcloud and all good platforms.

Advertiser GAA Pod: @MayoaAdvertSport/@galwayad. Hosted by Cian O’Connell and Colm Gannon. Covering all the talking points and action from the club and county scene in Mayo and Galway. Available on Spotify and Apple.

MayoAreBack: @MayoAreBack Satirical take on all things Mayo. Comical sketches and impressions. Available on Spotify.


TTM Live: @teamtalkmagLIVE. A dedicated small media organisation covering everything GAA. Featuring regular live shows and a wide range of guests. Multiple episodes per week in the build-up to the final. Open air preview show guests include Sean Cavanagh, Peter Canavan, Seamus McEnaney and Declan Bogue. Available to watch on Vimeo.

Red Hand Podcast - @UlsterHerald. Episodes released weekly, focusing on both codes and all levels of Tyrone GAA. Featuring interviews from players and coaches as well as media reaction. Available on Soundcloud.

Take Your Points - @Gaelic_Life. Ulster-focused podcast with particular emphasis on Tyrone given their recent success. Hosted by Ronan Scott and featuring guests such as Tyrone coach Martin McElkennon and former Tyrone player Connor McAliskey. Available on Soundcloud or to watch on YouTube.

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