| 10.7°C Dublin

It's back to the good old days for the GAA

IF you felt an enormous change in atmospheric pressure on Saturday evening, it was a sigh of relief emanating from the 1.27m who count themselves as Dubs.

The curse of the Kings of Leinster was lifted, with 22 strokes of boot or fist, and as the blue mist cleared there came an unmistakable expectation that there is more to come.

When you have something to celebrate in Dublin, the citizens come running. You can hear the footsteps already.

It was the nature of Saturday's victory that changed the dynamic, that caused football talk to engulf the city again.


The huge proportion of the population who only become aware of the team when they win have started asking questions again. They looked good. Who were they playing again? Who do they play next?

In times of economic and cultural self-doubt, the GAA has served the city well. Dublin needed that boost much more than they did in 1974 or 1995. The sense of expectation in 1995 was lower, in 1974 non existent.

There was a sense of imitation in the past, that Hill 16 was the Stretford End, that 1995 was Italia 90. There were no hang-ups in 1974 or 1995. Dublin are always in the big matches nowadays. They just don't seem to win them.

Hence the enhanced sense of pain after four quarter-final defeats (2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009) and three semi-final defeats (2006, 2007 and 2010). In two of those they could have won the All Ireland. Why didn't they? What has gone wrong?

Dublin have been collecting Leinster titles like penalty points on that road to Glasnevin cemetery for years, and always crashed at the next bend.

Leinster became a log round their necks. Those titles have not counted for anything when August arrived and the big boys from the country took off their jackets and joined the fray.

The boys in blue wouldn't admit it, but the quarter-finals became something to fear. They never lost the glamour associated with sky blue and navy, it is just that glamour didn't cut it outside the province.

We are used to pressure systems passing over our capital in summer, more low than high in recent years, but it is as if the pressure has been relieved.

It is like old times in the GAA. Four provincial champions are in the All Ireland semi-finals for the first time in 10 years.

Things are as they were long ago, before they served goat's cheese in corporate boxes.

Those years we had almost forgotten when the tiger stalked the suburbs, when the country was broke, when international finance was in turmoil, when Fine Gael and Labour were in power, when the presidency was resting place for has-been politicians, and when we stood on Hill 16 and watched Jimmy Keaveney kick points in the rain as the blue dye from the crepe hat ran down our faces.


They are doing it with more speed and efficiency nowadays. Bryan Cullen (instead of Paddy) and the boys can pass on the sense of excitement to a new generation, introduce them to the routine of victory and celebration that can engulfs a city and reminds us that whatever calamities befall our nation or our personal lives, the Dubs are always there to surprise us.

Dublin and Kerry on opposite sides of the draw? How retro.