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The Mayo Curse: Buffalo Irish Center to show Gaelic football final

No one should wish the ignominy of the Bills' four Super Bowl losses on anyone, but fans of one amateur Gaelic football squad have suffered an even greater plight than Buffalo's football team.

Mayo, a county in Ireland along its west coast, has lost three All-Ireland finals since 2012 - a whopping eight since 1989 - without winning a title. The tormented Gaelic Athletic Association side is back for another try in 2017 - but talks of a longstanding curse are heating up in advance of the clash.

For the first time, the Buffalo Irish Center (245 Abbott Road) will televise the contest, between Mayo and Dublin, at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 17. The cost is $20 and tickets are available at the Irish Center in advance or day-of. The bar opens at 9 a.m. Sunday.

According to Irish Center chairman Mary Heneghan, the timing was opportune to showcase the game.

"We've been interested for years, but the Continental Youth Championships being held here encouraged me to get the license to show it," she explained in a message. "The rivalry between Mayo and Dublin heightened my interest. My husband is from Mayo and we are hoping this is the year Mayo will break the 'curse .'"

It might look like soccer or lacrosse, but it's the Gaelic games

The curse Heneghan refers to is hotly debated - the Irish Times, after intense research, calls it "contrived nonsense" - but it nevertheless has stolen headlines in advance of the final.

The drama stems from an incident in 1951, writes the BBC, when the victorious Mayo Gaelic football team was returning home after beating Meath in the All-Ireland final.

"Legend has it that when they passed a funeral in the town of Foxford without stopping or paying respects, a curse was cast that Mayo would never again win the All-Ireland championship until all members of that team had died," writes BBC's Diarmaid Fleming.

Two competitors on that Mayo team are still alive - Padraig Carney and Paddy Prendergast - which does not bode well for County's success Sunday. Dublin conquered Mayo in 2016 in dramatic fashion - the two teams tied in the final, precipitating a replay that Dublin won.

Given her familiarity with the sport and connection to Mayo, Heneghan is well aware of the curse.

"It's huge," Heneghan said. "I am sure the sale of County jerseys has sky-rocketed."

When pressed if she believes in the curse's merit, however, Heneghan subtly sidestepped the question.

"It's an interesting legend," she said.

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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