In 1951, Mayo brought home their second successive All Ireland title and their third ever. Little did the county know on that joyful day that 62 years later, the whole county of Mayo would be marching on Croker in a bid to end the Sam Maguire drought. Mayo have experienced a cruel streak of misfortunes over the last six decades with numerous semi finals and finals that ended with "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda" performances. Mayo have had a great selection of managers in the past and enjoyed success in a bitter rivalry, but none of these managers could bring home the big prize.
A Mayo native and certainly an extremely successful GAA manager, with the wrong county. John O'Mahony was at the helm of Mayo when the were defeated by Cork in the All Ireland final of 1989. The side looked unique strong and fresh and Mayo fans thought that this was indeed the purple patch they had been waiting for.
John O'Mahony went on to enjoy a Connacht success with Leitrim in 1994 and then 2 All Ireland titles with Galway in 1998 and 2001. He returned to Mayo from 2007 to 2010 but this only produced a Connacht title in 2009 and never showed any capability of winning the All Ireland.
In late 1995, Mayo were standing in the Division 3 of the football league and looking rather dour. They appointed former player John Maughan to stem the tide. Mayo won both Connacht and Division 3 League title in 1996 and fought to an All Ireland final against Meath. Mayo should have definitely won the All Ireland final but were held to a draw by Meath who subsequently won the infamous bad tempered replay.
1997 saw Mayo win the Division 2 of the National League as well as retaining their Connacht title. Mayo qualified for the All Ireland final once again this time against Kerry. Kerry ran out unprecedented winners to the dismay of the Mayo fans. Another final lost.
1998 Seen Mayo win the Division 1 of the National league and in 1999, the Connacht final but they failed to reach the All Ireland Final. Maughan had enough and resigned.
Pat Holmes took the reign until 2002 only producing a National League title and Connacht title. But still no Sam Maguire. 2002 seen the return of Maughan for the 2003 season, which wasn't at all successful.
2004 ran rampant through Connacht and dethroned Tyrone in the quarter final. Mayo then played an awful game against Fermanagh needing a replay to see them into the All Ireland Final against Kerry. Kerry trounced Mayo in the final.
2005 saw them fail to retain the Connacht title and in turn defeated by Kerry in the All Ireland Quarter Final. Once again, Maughan resigned as Mayo Manager.
The Messiah?? James Horan
Following the Departure of John O'Mahony at the end of the 2010 campaign, James Horan was announced as the Mayo manager. Horan was an all star in 1996 and 1999 for the county and had shown promising signs in management from his performance with his club Ballintubber.
2011 saw Horan's debut in management and he showed a young Mayo side that have years ahead of them. That year they won the Connacht championship and bet Cork in the All Ireland quarter final. They were bet by 9 points by Kerry in the semi final but showed promising things from their first year performance. Mayo had its Renaissance.
2012 saw Mayo have a rather comfortable year in the championship and only seen two really tight games, the Connacht final against Sligo and the SFC semi final against Dublin. They qualified for the All Ireland with a promising young side against a Donegal team with revolutionary tactics that took the Country by storm. Once again it was Mayo fans who left Croke Park with the taste of defeat in their mouths.
Mayo will certainly be fired up for Sunday and they've the ghosts of their pasts haunting them too. If they don't win it this year, Horan, I think would stay and they'll most probably walk it over the next few years.
But a few years isn't good enough at the moment, The West is Awake NOW.