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So close... but Dubs fans lifted by goal-den effort

AGONISINGLY close -- and we let it slip away. Dublin's 18-year silverware gap continues today -- but fans believe the Dublin team show hope for this summer's All-Ireland championship.

While most Blues fans were muted leaving Croke Park yesterday afternoon, fans told the Herald that their team's performance in this year's Allianz League Division 1 showed much promise for the summer.

There was no hiding the disappointment of the tens of thousands of Dublin fans who had made their way to Croke Park only to see their team lose to All-Ireland champions Cork in the final minutes of the game.

The Rebels second-half rally appeared to shock the boys in blue -- whose surrender then seemed assured as soon as Bernard Brogan left the pitch injured.

A scuffle between opposing players in the tunnel at half-time added to the controversy of the match.

TV footage captured how tensions between the players spilled over as they went off at half-time.

Cork full-back Michael Shields and Dublin corner-back Philip McMahon could find themselves in hot water with the GAA's disciplinary authorities after RTE cameras caught the pair clashing in the tunnel.

The Central Competitions Control Committee is now likely to review TV footage to see if action against Shields and McMahon will be taken.

However, fans leaving Croke Park yesterday afternoon made no mention of the dispute -- only concerning themselves with the action they saw on the pitch.

"It was very disappointing. We were eight points ahead at one stage but as soon as Bernard Brogan went off injured in the second half, that was it," said Dublin fan Pat Halpin, who attended the match with daughters Amy and Zoe, and Amy's friend Kelsey Murray.

"They just fell apart after Brogan left the field -- it's like Steven Gerrard for Liverpool," Patrick added.

Friends Lorna Colgan, Rachel Dwyer, Meghan Kiely and Kate Murray, who all play football for St Margaret's in North Dublin, shared similar sentiments.

"They were doing well but then they ran out of steam," Kate told the Herald.

Dublin minor footballer Graham Heavey, from Rathfarnham, was there with Laura Hayden to cheer on the lads.

Graham, who is currently injured, played for Dublin minors last year. He said he was disappointed for the team but is hopeful they will get a good run during the summer.


However, some fans are doubtful whether the boys in blue can bring home the silverware this summer.

"It's the same old story," said Sutton man Shane Harte.

"You can't expect to win a match if you only score four points from play, which I think is what they did in the second half."

Ian Brogan, a cousin of Dublin's Brogan brothers, has more hope for the Dubs this summer. "It was disappointing but hopefully we'll put it up again for the championship," he said.

Stephen Callaghan, from Rathfarnham, believes Dublin's loss against the All-Ireland champions will take some of the pressure off.

"Some of the pressure will be off the lads now but I am disappointed in today's game."

Delighted Cork fans were gracious in victory -- with many pointing to Bernard Brogan's injury as a turning point in the game.

Liam Spriggs, from Cobh, who was attending the match with his wife Pauline and son Niall, said they were absolutely delighted to see the All-Ireland champs do the double.

"We had three or four players out injured so we're delighted to have won today.

"In fairness Dublin were very good -- but they missed Bernard Brogan. They channeled a lot his way and after he went off injured, it changed."

Some 36,000 fans attended yesterday's match.