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Baby steals limelight as Dubs fulfil Aras promise

THEY made her a promise that Sam would visit the Aras before she left.

And, after 16 years waiting, the Dublin footballers were cutting it fine.

However, President Mary McAleese, a self-confessed "adopted Dub", got her wish yesterday when the All-Ireland winning Dublin senior team paid her a visit.

"I'm here 14 years and I was just wondering if it was ever going to happen," she joked.

"I was nearly walking out the door when Sam Maguire was coming in."

She thanked the team and management for including Aras an Uachtarain on their lap of honour around the city.

And there was a special mention for the youngest Dub supporter, ten-day-old baby Ella, born just two days before her dad Eoghan O'Gara played in the encounter with Kerry.

"Boy, she came into the world at just the right moment," remarked Mrs McAleese as Ella blissfully slept through her encounter with the President.

Proud mum Elaine Blanville explained that Dublin's tiny super-fan timed her arrival to perfection.

"She was born on the Friday afternoon. She wasn't due until the following Thursday but she decided she wanted to be here for the match -- and to make sure Mammy couldn't go," she laughed.

Mrs McAleese said that "hairy-scary" Sunday in Croke Park was the most exciting match she has ever watched -- and she has sat through her fair share thanks to her husband, Senator Martin McAleese, who is a former player.

"She's one of the first WAGs," quipped Dr McAleese.

"It's very hard to make people happy at the moment. It's borderline impossible to make people euphoric at the moment, but you have done that," the President told the team.

"You've managed to not just lift the hearts of the people in the city and county of Dublin. I think it's fair to say that you lifted the country and you also lifted forever Irish people around the world."

The team was accompanied by their wives and girlfriends and captain Bryan Cullen admitted that visiting the President was one of the perks they have been missing out on.

"Never in our wildest dreams did we think we'd get the opportunity to do things like this," he said.

"It's unbelievable, this is what we've been dreaming of for 16 years," he added.

Meanwhile Pat Gilroy, who is considering his future with Dublin, said he would be delighted to stay as manager.

"I think we've had a really enjoyable week. I suppose at times you sort of have to pinch yourself that we've won it. It was an amazing game," he said.

Irish Independent