As Armagh take on Mayo this weekend for the first time since 2019, Billy Joe Padden joined The Sideline Eye podcast and described his move from the West of Ireland to the Orchard County.
Padden, who’s dad Willie Joe is a legend in Mayo GAA circles, played in two All-Ireland finals for his native county in 2004 and 2006.
He transferred to Carrickcruppen after moving to Newry and didn’t expect to play county football again.
“My intention was to finish playing with Mayo and play out the remainder of my career with Carrickcruppen.”
“I think I was probably around 30 or whatever at the time. Just by pure chance, I don’t even remember the call. Paddy O’Rourke was the Armagh manager and he just said, ‘would you be interested in coming in?”
“The main thing that turned me off playing for Mayo was the travelling and the distance up and down.”
In his first year involved, Armagh faced Mayo during their division one league campaign and won by three points in the end.
While it was a strange experience, Padden, who played 16 times in total for Armagh, enjoyed getting one over his former teammates.
“It was a bit odd because I was so quickly removed. I’d played for Mayo the season before, it was interesting.”
“As it happened, I think I played sweeper, so it was a handy enough role, I enjoyed doing that.”
“I didn’t really have to go man-on-man with anyone I knew too well. It was great to get the win when you go back.”
“Those personal things, they take over. No matter where the county of your birth is, it’s always nice to get one over personally.”
Padden already had a strong link to the Orchard county through a former coach. Legendary trainer John Morrison, along with his lifelong friend Mickey Moran, guided Mayo to the 2006 All-Ireland final.
“We had a great year with Mayo that year, in terms of some of the big days we had, some of the performances we were able to put in.”
“Just the general atmosphere of the season with Mickey and John and the season we put together.”
“Something totally different with two coaches from Ulster who had no real connection to Connaught football or to Mayo.”
“It was like a breath of fresh air, and the players all really embraced it. You had a real fondness for both men, in terms of the way they wanted to look after you, the way they wanted to improve you.”
“But then the quality of their coaching, and that’s the thing that has to stand out. They were absolutely exceptional at what they did in terms of their coaching.”
“Some of it was off the wall, but we embraced it and it served us well. Of all the seasons I played with Mayo, it’s the one I’ll look back on most fondly.”