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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Impostor Stephen the 16th man in Dubs' celebrations

Fiona Ellis

Published 23/09/2011 | 05:00

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Stephen Molloy, 27, was the only fan to get onto the field as Dublin celebrated winning the All-Ireland.
Stephen has been immortalised in a series of photographs as the team celebrated their victory. Photo: Sportsfile
Stephen later happily poses for photographers with the champions. Photo: Sportsfile

HE's the mystery man in the midst of Dublin's All-Ireland celebrations on the Croke Park pitch.

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His face has been immortalised on team posters that appeared in several papers.

Stephen Molloy has now told the amazing story of how he joined the celebrations with the 'Boys in Blue' after Sunday's dramatic win over Kerry.

Stephen (27) was the only fan out of 82,300 who got on to the field after the final whistle blew on Sunday.

Not only did he get to do the lap of honour with the team -- but he made it into many of the photographs taken after their nail-biting win.

Mr Molloy, from Summerhill in the north inner city, had been to all the Dublin matches before the final.

The single, unemployed barman and dad to Lucy (2) had played GAA football while in secondary school in O'Connell Secondary School on North Richmond Street in Dublin but not since.

Mr Molloy was sitting with friends in the Hogan Stand and just as goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton was taking the final crucial free, which sealed victory, "excitement took over" and he hopped over a nearby barrier into where the substitutes were sitting.

Amid the bedlam none of the players on the bench took any notice of him.

Stephen then saw Dublin sub Eamon Fennell's discarded tracksuit top and put it on.

As the final whistle sounded Mr Molloy, along with all the subs, ran onto the pitch in jubilation.

"I don't know what made me do it," he told the Irish Independent last night.

"We got a free kick and I just jumped over to the substitutes' bench and sat there for a minute.

"I saw the top on the ground and threw it on me and a few minutes later all the substitutes and myself just went down a little ramp onto the pitch and there I was."

On the pitch, Mr Molloy spent an hour and a half celebrating with the team and management. No one ever questioned who he was or why he was there. He got to hold the trophy four times and also appeared on live TV.

Mr Molloy said he will remember the day forever.

"I was on the pitch for nearly an hour and a half celebrating. There were players handing me the trophy, I was up at Hill 16 and I did the lap of honour.

" Alan Brogan did an interview and I was behind him and as soon as the interview was over me and Alan were hugging live on TV."

Mr Molloy also said he hugged and kissed the team's manager Pat Gilroy in celebration. After the excitement died down, Stephen slipped out of the stadium once more unnoticed.

"Nobody at all figured it out. When the players were going in with the trophy I just walked off and got back into the stand and headed home."

Mr Molloy, who is now a local hero in his area, had one celebratory drink and then went home to watch the highlights.

Unbelievable

"I watched 'The Sunday Game' and there was a shot and I was in the middle of all of them. One of them had the trophy on his head and they were all gathering around and I'm just there, in the middle, jumping around with them in my blue tracksuit top. It was brilliant, it was unbelievable. I felt like I was after winning an All- Ireland myself."

Mr Molloy said he is going to keep the tracksuit as a memento of the day he snuck on to Croke Park to celebrate Dublin's historic win.

Last night, a spokesman for the Dublin team said the squad

were oblivious to the extra man among them.

"We knew nothing about it," he said. "The team were oblivious to what was going on as they were too busy celebrating."

Meanwhile, the victorious All-Ireland-winning team have been invited on to 'The Late Late Show' tonight.

Pat Gilroy, Bryan Cullen and the Dublin squad are understood to have accepted an invitation to go to RTE to show off the Sam Maguire and have a chat with 'Late Late' host Ryan Tubridy, before continuing their tour of clubs in the county.

Tubridy will have arguably his toughest interviewee yet trying to get Stephen Cluxton to break his vow of media silence and talk about his momentous injury-time free kick.

The viewing figures for the final peaked in the closing stages when 1.4m viewers watched the Dubs come from behind to win.

Irish Independent

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