Sunday 18 February 2018

'No one can beat us,' say Dubs fans as Lilywhites left blue in face

Dublin fans Caelan O'Brien, left, 5, and pal Micheal Ui Mhathuna, 5, from Swords Picture: Caroline Quinn
Dublin fans Caelan O'Brien, left, 5, and pal Micheal Ui Mhathuna, 5, from Swords Picture: Caroline Quinn

Gavin White at Croke Park

An air of expectation from Hill 16 turned into a carnival atmosphere as the dominant Dubs strolled through Croke Park to hammer the Lilywhites 2-23 to 1-17 for their seventh Leinster title in a row.

And their fans were delighted as the terraces emptied.

"No one will beat the Dubs," Gerard Doyle, from Ballyfermot, said.

While Gerry gave out about the "inconsistent referee", he was still looking forward to "another All-Ireland in September".

"I think Tyrone might be able to put up a fight against us as they're very physical and since the rule change a few years ago, which I think helped the Northern teams, they might challenge," he said.

Sandra Fitzsimons, from Sandyford, was celebrating with her daughters Emer (15) and Sinead (12), who both said Bernard Brogan and Dean Rock were once again the stars.

A young Dublin fan shouts for the team Picture: Caroline Quinn
A young Dublin fan shouts for the team Picture: Caroline Quinn

Sandra said it's "all eyes on the All-Ireland now".

Before the game, the Dubs fans were brimming with anticipation but Kildare supporters were also confident they could pull it out of the bag.

Shay Downey, husband of RTÉ's Joanne Cantwell, brought their two daughters along for the game.

Despite his best efforts, Shay couldn't convince Emmy (5) and Alex (3) to support the Dubs.

Instead the two girls were adamant Kildare would spoil the Boys in Blues' day.

The celebrations of the Dublin minors earlier in the day brought Hill 16 into early celebratory mode.

And it wasn't long before the seniors emerged to join the party.

The Artane Band's usual pre-match performance was drowned out by the deafening noise coming from the Hill and all around the ground.

Daniel Flynn's early point and an early goal opportunity gave Kildare a start filled with hope and set a physical tone for the game.

However, it wasn't long before Dublin were back in business and Dean Rock's goal resulted in a chorus of "Deano, Deano".

Both sets of fans temporarily forgot about what was happening on the pitch in the sixth minute, as they joined in a minute's applause in memory of Bradley Lowery, a six-year-old football fan from Sunderland whose death from cancer captured the hearts of sports fans all over the world.

Rock's black card mid-way through the first half brought Bernard Brogan into the fold and one of the largest cheers of the day was his first point, consolidating the Dubs' first-half lead.

The Boys in Blue were revelling in a succession of misses from Kildare.

Hill 16's vibrant nature was on show again as a huge flag was unfurled and passed around the crowd during the second half.

The flag was in aid of Care 4 Colin, a campaign to help 20-year-old Colin Grassick from Drumcondra, who suffers from a rare disease.

A disallowed Paul Mannion goal in injury time wasn't enough to spoil the Dubs' good mood, or dent their confidence, as they now look ahead to the All-Ireland series with confidence.

Choruses of 'Molly Malone' and 'We are the Champions' sounded from the Hill as the full-time whistle blew.

Lucan native Jonathan McCarthy said although it was "close enough for a while", the game was never really in doubt.

However, he admitted that to beat the likes of Kerry, Dublin will "need to up their game a good bit".

Kildare fan Barry Davis said they were "hopeful before the game" but were disappointed in the end.

"At the end of the day, we were annihilated and that's tough to take," he said. "They just didn't show enough spirit, I think," he added, shaking his head.

Jenny O'Sullivan (28), from Clontarf, who proudly stated that she goes "to most matches every summer" was delighted with the result and said she struggled to think if anyone can beat Dublin to the All-Ireland.

Eight-year-old Lennox Gunnery and his grandmother Bernadette, from Coolock, were very conservative in their prediction of a three-point win, but were ultimately delighted to have seen the Dubs get the victory.

Peter Treacy, from the Navan Road, was also there with his five-year-old grandson Ben and said "no one will beat us".

He said Ben is delighted he can see "one of the greatest Dubs teams ever" in action.

Peter said he used to work with Charlie Redmond, who was part of the 1995 All-Ireland winning Dubs team, in the Fire Brigade, and said this Dubs team are "beginning to rival them".

Irish Independent

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