FORMER MAYO ATTACKING star Ciaran McDonald believes Dublin were affected more by the Connacht side’s decision to controversially warm up in front of Hill 16 before the 2006 All-Ireland senior football semi-final.
Bizarre scenes unfolded before that classic encounter six years ago when Mayo, who were first out onto the field in Croke Park, decided to conduct their pre-match preparations in front of the Hill 16 which is traditionally the area where Dublin warm up.
Dublin emerged afterwards and also warmed up at that end of the pitch. The then Dublin manager Paul Caffrey was subsequently slapped with a one-match touchline ban after an altercation with Mayo selector John Morrison while Mayo dietician Mary McNicholas fell to the ground after being accidentally struck with a football.
Recalling the scenes at a Vodafone GAA press conference yesterday ahead of next Sunday’s meeting of the two counties, McDonald also insisted that the move was not ‘pre-ordained’ on Mayo’s part.
“There was no big gathering saying we’re going down to the Hill,” McDonald told TheScore.ie. “We came out of the dressing room and we just went left after coming out of the tunnel. We got down there and people said there’d be Holy Hell. A few of the senior lads were saying what are we going to do. I said we had to stay now, we couldn’t be going up the field like a shower of pups.
“We couldn’t show the white flag, go back up the field and have 82,000 people laughing at us. There was a lot of bumping around after we invaded Dublin’s territory. It wasn’t that we came down to the Hill for any reason to upset Dublin and it wasn’t pre-ordained. The result defines all inevitably.
“I don’t think it affected us as much as Dublin. Players prepare for games differently. Some lie down on the bench and shut their eyes, others bang a table to make noise. But I still think if you asked Dublin players honestly, they’d have preferred to go right when they came out of the dressing-room. It heaped pressure on them.”
Ray Cosgrove, who lined out at wing-forward for Dublin in that match, offers a differing view about how the influence of that warm-up but describes the scenes as ‘carnage’.
“We got wind of it beforehand. It was only a minute or two before going out and we were in the warm up area as normally the 15 that are starting go in there with Pillar for the last few words of wisdom. We got word off Davy Billings that Mayo had gone down to the Hill and at that stage there was no way we were giving an inch in that regard.
“It was carnage there for about ten minutes with bodies and balls flying everywhere. The crowd got really behind it and I never forget warming up with Coman Goggins doing a blocking drill and I looked around and saw the Mayo dietician sprawled out on the ground.
“I didn’t see what happened and didn’t know did someone hit her or had she got sculled by a ball in the head. I don’t think it made a difference to the game. The warm up was done and I don’t think it had any influence.”