Dubs' cup runneth over... with children
A WALL of noise greeted the 'walking wounded' as they brought 'Sam' for his annual tour of duty.
Heads spun and camera shutters popped relentlessly as the Dublin stars were greeted by a sea of blue shirts, mixed with plenty of blue babygros for the traditional post-match and party visit to Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.
Looking particularly sprightly, and sporting an impressively rainbow-hued black eye, defender Johnny Cooper had the cup firmly in his grasp.
"It brings you back down to earth. There are a lot of important things in life apart from football," he said, as he patiently dealt with a flood of babies offered forth to nestle in the well-worn bowl of the Sam Maguire.
Little Jim Shiels (2) peered out over his glasses as he reached for the shiny cup amid the bedlam.
His mother, Emma Shiels, from Portlaoise, revealed Jim had really enjoyed the visit after spending several weeks in hospital as he suffers from the rare genetic eating disorder Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), which means he never feels full.
Sporting a Mayo jersey, schoolgirl Niamh O'Neill (12), from Ballyhaunis, confessed her disappointment over losing by a point was still raw.
"Seeing the Sam is great – but maybe not with the Dublin team," she said.
Player of the year Michael Darragh Macauley was oh so gingerly pressing his swollen right fingers into the putty to make a cast for persuasive nurses at Crumlin to use for fundraising antics.
At St John's, Crumlin's cancer ward, there were mixed welcomes. Galway schoolboy and GAA fanatic Rory Carroll (7), whose grandfather played for Mayo in 1961 for the minors, admitted there had been a few tears shed in their household over Dublin's win.
"In life they say only death and taxes are the two certainties – well now Mayo losing All-Ireland finals is there, too," sighed his father Joe, originally from Westport.
Little Brea Mullarkey (3), from Garristown, Co Dublin, had been busy painting a blue welcome picture, after shouting at the television "Up the Dubs" with her dad Tommie in her room.
"This is our fourth week here – this is a hard time so things like this help. You just need a good day," said her mother Elaine.
The team made a swift beeline for Temple Street Children's University Hospital with the coveted silverware, as they tried to squeeze as much as possible into those precious few hours before the mammoth 'homecoming' celebrations.