Daly eyes next big day for elated Dubs
IF the Dublin dressing-room was world HQ for contentment on Saturday evening, Anthony Daly was happy to sup heartily with his ecstatic pupils.
Yet again this season, Dublin had ignored the underdog tag, this time against a Galway team that went into the game under a thick layer of criticism from some of the county's heroic figures of the past.
There's probably more to come but, for Dublin, it's plaudits all the way as their season continues to generate an impressive momentum. Kilkenny await, but in that lovely afterglow of semi-final success, Daly wanted his players to enjoy the moment.
"They've been in the wilderness for so long that they're smelling the coffee a bit now. They're here on a Saturday evening after winning a Leinster semi-final -- sure where else would you want to be when you're in your twenties?" he said.
Judging by the sheer elation on the faces of the Dublin players, O'Connor Park was indeed the perfect location.
Peter Kelly, who did very well at full-back after Tomas Brady went off injured, said that one of the key differences this year was that Dublin were sustaining performances right to the end, a quality that certainly stood to them on Saturday.
"Maybe in the past, we were good at putting in performances but not seeing them through to the end. We're doing that this year -- we're good for 70-75 minutes," he said.
The Galway squad remained in their dressing-room much longer than Dublin, uncertain, no doubt, as to what the outside world held.
There were caustic comments from the terraces as they left the pitch after a performance which John McIntyre described as "bitterly disappointing".
"We had thrown a lot at this fixture over the past fortnight. We needed to after our performance against Westmeath. We came here with our eyes open -- we knew what Dublin would bring to the game; they have been the team of the year so far, very physical, very athletic," he said.
It was a combination that proved too much for Galway and set Dublin up for a third clash with Kilkenny this year. Dublin won the Walsh Cup and Allianz League finals and Daly is already looking forward to round three with a mischievous glint.
"We're into a Leinster final. We'll treat it as a day in itself, against the greatest team that ever played, so why wouldn't we look forward to it?" he said.
As for Galway, it's qualifier territory and all the associated risks.
"We're in a bad place tonight. We're going home with our tail between our legs," said McIntyre.