Mayo’s All-Ireland Jinx & Other Sporting Superstitions



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This weekend’s All Ireland Football Final sees Dublin attempt to win their third Sam Maguire on the trot, and their fifth in seven years – while Mayo hope to banish a curse that’s left them empty-handed for some 66 years!

The county last won the Sam Maguire in 1951… and ruined the chance of a repeat for generations to come. On their way home, the team – who were travelling on the back of a truck, as you do – passed a funeral in the town of Foxford without paying proper respects. This, according to the tale, led a priest to proclaim they wouldn’t win another title until every member of that side had passed away; sure enough, the barren patch has now reached 66 years.

It’s far from the only superstitious sporting saga – in fact, there’s some incredible tales from teams across the globe.


William Sianis, the owner of The Billy Goat Tavern, brought the pet after which his pub was named to Game Four of baseball’s 1945 World Series. It wasn’t long before the pair were ejected, though, after someone complained of the smell (from the goat, not William!). Upon leaving, he cursed the team, saying they’d never win again – and what had been a 37-year dry spell became a 108-year drought, broken only last October.


Boston Red Sox claimed five of the first fifteen World Series; then they sold star player Babe Ruth to their sworn rivals, the New York Yankees. What followed was an 86-year spell without a title to their name – often attributed to the decision to trade the man known as The Bambino. The pattern was finally broken in 2004 – with another pair of triumphs since then confirming the hoodoo to be banished completely!


A skyscraper built in 1987 extended higher than the William Penn statue atop Philadelphia City Hall – a big no-no! Two decades of failure for the normally all-conquering local sides followed, until some industrious construction workers affixed a miniature version to the brand new Comcast Center - the city’s new highest structure. The result? A return to winning ways within a year, when their baseball side the Phillies broke the spell of bad luck!


Strangely, there’s no Irish link here; rather, it’s down to revered Montreal Canadiens ice-hockey star Patrick Roy. His Trojan efforts had landed the team a pair of Stanley Cups, adding to their mammoth haul over the years – but his strained relationship with new coach Mario Tremblay saw him depart shortly after their 1993 triumph. Despite being the most successful team in NHL history, they haven’t claimed a title since…


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