VIDEO: Happiest Monday as blue tide lifts Dubs sky high
Delirium grips streets of capital as fans acclaim conquering heroes, writes Grainne Cunningham
IT was the bluest of Mondays -- and Dubliners could not have been happier.
After 16 empty Septembers, they obviously wanted to savour the sweet taste of victory as much as possible.
So they came in their thousands to honour the team that brought Sam Maguire back to the capital.
An estimated 35,000 supporters poured into the streets around Merrion Square last night, bringing with them a blue sea of waving flags and banners.
Some queued for up to five hours so they could get the best view of the squad that achieved what many had only dreamed was possible -- taking the trophy off veteran All-Irelanders Kerry.
Thousands of voices erupted into a spontaneous chant of 'Come on ye boys in blue' as the victorious players were called on to the open-air stage by sports presenter Des Cahill.
Jaded and hoarse from their first 24 hours as heroes, they proved to be almost as energetic on the stage as they were on the pitch on Sunday.
One after another, they took the microphone to lead the adoring crowd through 'The Aul Triangle', 'Dublin in the Rare Auld Times' and, of course, the city's anthem 'Molly Malone'.
Glassy-eyed with too little sleep, the players looked just as star-struck as the young fans.
As every amateur photographer trained their mobiles on the stage, the squad turned their own phones on the crowd to capture their own images of this unforgettable day.
"Sing all our cares away, we'll live to fight another day," sang a very croaky Kevin McManamon, borrowing Damien Dempsey's song to create his own revealing ditty, poking fun at his teammates.
Then the exuberant supporters gave half-back Kevin Nolan another reason never to forget his 22nd birthday as they joined the team in a rousing rendition of 'happy birthday'.
"The Jacks are back," said Dublin Lord Mayor Andrew Montague, as he praised the minors and the Dublin hurlers too.
But crowd control issues threatened to mar the party atmosphere earlier when surging fans nearly crushed some supporters who were up against the front barriers.
The situation was brought under control fairly quickly by security staff.
However, fans at the front were critical of the fact that they were penned in on three sides by barriers and said this had contributed to the crushing effect as those behind tried to get closer to the stage.
Teresa and Jimmy Dunphy from Palmerstown had brought along Michael (12) and Ellen (9), both of whom were scared enough to burst into tears.
"It wasn't pleasant," said Teresa. "Adults can cope but not the young kids. They got scared and then they started crying".
A security man, who was obliged to escort children to a portaloo behind the stage, complained that no toilets had been provided for the crowd.
Captain Bryan Cullen was given a hero's homecoming when he later brought Sam Maguire back to his home club Skerries Harps.
Up to 15,000 fans snaked through the seaside town to welcome home the team.
The coveted trophy was promptly placed on the clubhouse bar as the players queued up for well-deserved pints.
Jubilant fans, some of whom started arriving over three hours earlier, erupted in cheers as two open-topped tour buses brought the 2011 All-Ireland winners home.
Thousands more supporters assembled on the pitch behind the clubhouse in the driving rain.
Chanting "we want Sam", they were not disappointed as the squad came out to greet them. Bryan said he was delighted at the turnout.
"It was amazing. I had an idea what was coming but didn't expect this. It was unbelievable," said Bryan.
Earlier in the evening, the Dublin squad and their families were feted at a special reception in the Mansion House. Kevin McManamon said winning the All-Ireland was "something you just dream about".