Dundalk FC's Mayo men, John Mountney and Ronan Murray. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
The lonely road to Dublin is something Mayo men have soldiered along many times, often returning having lost All-Ireland finals.
But, for John Mountney and Ronan Murray, things are different. Instead of going cross-country, they’re all aboard the Lilywhite Express and primed for The Big Smoke.
“It’s a train that no-one is planning on hopping off and no-one wants it to stop,” Mountney, who recently signed a new two-year deal with the club, says.
Bohola’s finest is in his seventh season with the champions of Ireland and success has come in both frequent and hefty doses. Indeed, he has more league winners’ medals than his native county do GAA SFC All-Irelands (three).
Mountney can often be seen on the shop floor of Tony McDonnell’s and on the occasions that he escapes up the town, is regularly sighted acknowledging supporters who make their presence known. There is a connection.
“I’ve been living in Dundalk for the last seven years and when you’re hanging around you get a sense of what it means to people and of how passionate a football town it is.
“It’s great to be all one; celebrating together and winning things together, because when you lose, you lose together and the fans felt it in last year’s final too.
“Losing a cup final, it’s horrible. Even winning the league and losing the final (in 2016), you still go out on a downer, even though you’re after winning the league. But our mindset is positive and we’ve been in great form so we’re looking forward to it.”
Mountney’s season has been plagued by respective injuries, though his performances have been career-best since returning.
He credits the team’s great run through the summer months as providing him with the motivation to get back to fitness as swiftly as he has.
Having come off the bench in each of the three FAI Cup deciders with Cork City, he is hoping for a first Aviva start this weekend… and, of course, a second victory.