Although the day ended in disappointment for the Mayo supporters who travelled to Croke Park to see their team take on Donegal, for one nine year old from Castlebar there was reason to celebrate as he was given a ticket shortly before thrown-in by Ballinaglera’s Ray Gilmartin.
TJ wrote to the Leitrim Observer last week to thank Ray for coming to his rescue as he travelled to Dublin on the day of the match with just one ticket for the Davin Stand and they were desperately hoping to swap the ticket for Hill 16 and then buy a second ticket for the Hill so they could be together.
At 2.30pm, just an hour before throw-in TJ’s dad decided that their efforts to secure the tickets had been in vain and they walked towards the North Circular Road hoping to sell their ticket.
After meeting with his aunt and uncle, who had a ticket for the Cusack Stand and the Hogan Stand, TJ recalled they stood in the middle of the road trying to sell the ticket.
The ticket was almost sold to a woman but when she saw how distraught TJ was she said she didn’t feel right buying the ticket.
As it got ever closer to throw-in time all hope seemed to be lost when, as TJ explained, “A stranger saw I was upset and asked me if I was ok. My Auntie explained that there were four of us and we had three tickets for three different areas of the stadium.
The man said “I am from Leitrim and I can’t see this young fellow miss seeing his team on All-Ireland Sunday. I will watch the match on the TV and give you my Cusack ticket”
Expressing his gratitude to Ray Gilmartin for his generous act TJ said, “When I am older I hope I can make some young boy as happy as he made me. I think his community should know what a nice thing he did for me.
“We didn’t win the match but I will never forget my day in Croke Park.”