Dubs in blue heaven as Cats run out of lives on historic day
HOPEFUL Dublin hurling fans in search of a ticket yesterday queued in their hundreds for up to 30 minutes before throw-in.
They formed a massive queue that snaked along the North Circular Road in the capital, anxiously checking their watches while they waited patiently to get tickets for the historic Division 1 hurling final against Kilkenny that drew more than 42,000 fans.
It was a rare sight, not seen around Croke Park in the 65 years since Dublin last reached the final. Then there was an even rarer sound: a deafening roar that sounded like a jet taking off erupted from the famous stadium when Dublin emerged victorious from their battle with the hurling kings from Kilkenny.
And the final score was emphatic, with the Blues notching up an impressive 0-22 against the Cats' 1-07.
Hill 16 was a sea of blue as jubilant Dubs chanted, roared and hugged each other with unrestrained pride. The scenes of unbridled joy were reflected on the pitch as Dublin captains John McCaffrey and Stephen Hiney lifted the cup in triumph.
Dublin supporter Bernard Callaghan (57), from Lucan, wasn't even born when the Dubs last won the cup. But that was soon forgotten as he savoured the "absolutely electric" atmosphere in the stadium.
Although the bookies rated Dublin the underdogs, Mr Callaghan said he never doubted for a minute that they would pull off a famous victory.
"There's no sense in going unless you think they're going to win," he told the Irish Independent.
"They weren't the underdogs in our eyes and they were absolutely fantastic. But they have been all year. That day was a long time coming."
Myles Conduit, from Clondalkin, west Dublin, had never even been to a hurling match before. "It was great," he said. "I know nothing about hurling. I only went for a laugh. We'll be having a pint now."
Despite their own disappointment, even die-hard Kilkenny supporters conceded Dublin were the deserving winners.
"Ah, sure, it's good for hurling," said Cats supporter Martin Tierney (66), from Ballyragget, Co Kilkenny. "You can't win them all."
John Knox (60), from Kilkenny city, also took the loss in his stride as he made a beeline for the exit several minutes before the match ended as any hope of a victory for the Cats faded.
"We're getting hammered," he said just before the final whistle. "It's painful for Kilkenny but fair play to them (Dublin)."
Croke Park stadium manager Peter McKenna said he was delighted with the "fantastic turnout", which verged on record attendance figures for a league game.