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Dubs fall foul at the final hurdle

IT was blood, sweat and tears for the Dubs at Croke Park after their campaign came to a heart-breaking end.

There was no shortage of drama in GAA headquarters as Dublin attempted to bag a coveted spot in the All-Ireland football final. But their hopes were dashed in the cruelest of fashions when Cork pipped them to the post in a 1-15 to 1-14 defeat.

In what can only be described as a game of two halves, Dublin fans could have been forgiven for their early surge of optimism. But the second half provided a different turn of events for the loyal blue army.

It was 35 minutes that every Dublin fan will hope to forget as they fouled, fumbled and fell over the finish line.

It was a game they should have, and could have, won.

A perfect start came just two minutes into the tense game when Bernard Brogan found the back of the Cork net as the crowd erupted with delight.

It wasn't long until they found their stride and blasted their way to a 1-8 to 0-7 lead at half time.

The excitement and sense of expectation was almost tangible as fans on the Hill began to mastermind their tickets for the final in September.

Unfortunately, Cork put an end to all the short-lived optimism as they started the second half like a new team.

A penalty in the 54th minute let Cork back into the game and not even talisman Bernard Brogan could muster the strength to drag the boys in blue over the line.

Much to the dismay of the baying crowds, Dublin started giving away cheap fouls, allowing their rivals to chip away at their four-point lead.

The resulting three points brought the Rebels to within one score of the battling blues, shifting the balance of play away from Gilroy's men.

In a final push to secure the spot in Croke Park in September, the Dubs managed to restore their three points advantage.

But with minutes left on the stadium clock Paul Kerrigan's industry helped the Rebels rally once again with Colm O'Neill and Patrick Kelly landing points.

Then came the hammer blow, as Cork tied the lead and with 69 minutes gone, Ross McConnell was shown red for a rash challenge on Noel O'Leary.

The resulting three minutes of extra time saw Cork win by the narrowest of margins and Dublin once again fail to reach the final.