Wednesday 7 December 2016

Capital awash with emotion as sea of blue greets heroes

Ryan Nugent

Published 03/10/2016 | 02:30

Dublin players Dennis Bastick and Bernard Brogan lift the Sam Maguire cup at the homecoming for the All-Ireland final winners at Smithfield last night. 10,000 fans turned out to salute the defeated Mayo team in Castlebar. Photo: Arthur Carron
Dublin players Dennis Bastick and Bernard Brogan lift the Sam Maguire cup at the homecoming for the All-Ireland final winners at Smithfield last night. 10,000 fans turned out to salute the defeated Mayo team in Castlebar. Photo: Arthur Carron

The streets were blue, the skies were blue, heck even Jim Gavin's shoelaces were blue - that can't have been a coincidence as the Dublin juggernaut rocked up in the capital to show off their silverware.

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In recent years, it has stopped off at Merrion Square, O'Connell Street and this time it made its way to Smithfield, where up to 10,000 supporters paid tribute to a team that are most certainly the finest produced in the history of Dublin city.

It was a quick turnaround; captain Stephen Cluxton had only raised the most significant trophy in Gaelic football at around 7pm on Saturday night, and the fans were lining the streets 21 hours later.

They had to wait a while too - but the goosebumps, screams and chants when the giant screen showed the team bus rolling up near Smithfield Square might just have made it worth the wait.

And if that didn't do it, then the 'X Factor' auditions by messrs Kevin McManamon, Dean Rock and Brian Fenton certainly did.

Whether it's unique to Dublin homecomings or not, some of the Boys in Blue's finest have made it somewhat a tradition to show that Dublin's got talent behind a microphone.

Their voices were probably a bit more raspy than usual, given the partying that has gone on since they dispensed with Mayo to take home a second All-Ireland title in succession.

The dancing at the Gibson Hotel and the Boar's Head pub was almost as intense as the 70 minutes played at Croke Park, according to corner back Philly McMahon.

The Ballymun man, a tea-totaller, said he was charged with the duty of carrying about four of the lads home afterwards, unsurprising given the commitment and fitness levels required to win the Sam Maguire.

Read more: 'Behind every great team, there are great fans' - All-Ireland winners Dublin greeted by thousands

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton holds the Sam Maguire up to fans in Smithfield Square. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton holds the Sam Maguire up to fans in Smithfield Square. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Sure when would they have had the chance to have a drink in the past nine months?

Asked whether his team were getting bored with their relentless success, McMahon said not a chance.

"The celebrations are still going on - it's been great," he said.

"I'm unlike a lot of the lads in that I don't drink so I soak it in as much as I can, but they're soaking something different in.

Kevin McManamon sings a song during the celebrations. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Kevin McManamon sings a song during the celebrations. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

"It's special to look back now to think that you've won two in a row.

"How could you (get sick of it) - it's amazing. Our drive is that we know we have a short career and within that career we need to do as much as we can and enjoy the journey that we have," he added.

That was definitely the message being communicated around the north-inner city Dublin last night.

Lord Mayor Brendan Carr spoke of winning three or four in a row; multiple All-Star winner Paul Flynn said a triple success was already on his mind; while fan-favourite McManamon said, tongue-in-cheek, that he wanted 10.

Dublin's supporters had similar musings.

Dublin celebrate winning the All-Ireland final at Smithfield in Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron
Dublin celebrate winning the All-Ireland final at Smithfield in Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron

Catherine O'Keeffe from Tallaght said the barren years as a Dublin supporter makes them want more and more - although her nerves were so shot from the helter-skelter nature of Saturday's one-point victory, she couldn't even eat. And she probably wasn't on her own in that sense.

"It's just amazing," Catherine said. "From the age of three I've been going onto Hill 16, and I remember Dublin winning All-Ireland's, now for my children to experience this is just incredible," she added.

Ronan Gahan (40), from Glasnevin, explained that this was a very special team.

Dublin players Michael Fitzsimons and Robert McDaid with Mark Lynch (8) and his mother Tracie Carroll, from Cabra with the Sam Maguire cup at Temple Street Children’s Hospital. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Dublin players Michael Fitzsimons and Robert McDaid with Mark Lynch (8) and his mother Tracie Carroll, from Cabra with the Sam Maguire cup at Temple Street Children’s Hospital. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

"They're phenomenal - once in a lifetime. I know Dean Rock's dad, Barney, well and even he said that he's just never seen a team like it.

"The whole city needs to stay behind them, don't take it for granted," he added.

Giving his party piece, McManamon provided a rendition of Vance Joy's 'Riptide' - one of the team's songs - but it's the sky blue tide of fans that is washing away all before them.

Irish Independent

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