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Eamor Carr: A team of heroes that won the heart of Dublin

They make Hollywood movies about this sort of thing.

And they call them epics.

Yesterday's blockbuster in Croke Park, when Dublin's depleted hurlers stood firm against the might of All Ireland champions Tipperary will live long in legend.


If you missed it, then just think of the story of the small band of Spartans who stood firm at Thermopylae in ancient Greece against an invading army of millions.

They lost, of course, but the courage, skill and determination they displayed in facing overwhelming odds still shines as a beacon over the centuries.

Dublin manager Anthony Daly can shrug off the disappointment and say he and his squad are sick of moral victories, but someone should tell him that the spirit of this team burns bright enough to power a small nuclear plant.

The pundits would have had us believe that the Dublin hurlers went to Croke Park yesterday without a hope in hell. The odds with the bookmakers were overwhelming.

And why wouldn't they be? Despite the steady progress this team has made, despite the National League title they have in the bag, despite the Walsh Cup on the mantlepiece, Dublin were written off before they togged out.

It didn't help that the sick bay was crammed with talent. With Stephen Hiney on crutches, Tomas Brady and Conal Keaney similarly crocked and Oisin Gough nursing a broken hand, it looked as if Dublin's season was going to come to a shuddering end beneath a Premier County blitzkrieg.

Waterford were torn apart by 7-19 in the Munster final. Cork had been hammered 4-19. An under-strength Dublin would be lambs to the slaughter. Or, so they said.

Dublin weren't listening.

Just the other day, sidelined Tomas Brady revealed that the team had made a pact, a vow, that they'd accept no excuses from each other this season. They factored in injuries to their overall scheme. If men in the frontline went down, somebody would step up to take his place and be prepared to shed his blood for the cause.

Yesterday we marvelled at grit, bravery and stick technology of the Boys .. no make that Men in Blue.

Sport, like theatre, thrives on the contest between the mighty and the weak. Yesterday, hurling's formidable Empire, the men who overthrew the giants of the modern era, Kilkenny, rolled into town in what their supporters expected would be just a simple pit-stop on the road to another glorious September day.

Did they ever get a fright!

Dublin may have been in uncharted territory, a first All Ireland semi-final since 1948, but you'd never have guessed. The lads in the blues shirts played like they'd been born with silver camans in their mouths.

But yesterday it was the Tipp players who got the few lucky breaks. Listen, I heard a relieved Lar Corbett, Tipperary's talisman, admit, "We lost the fight. We were lucky."

It wouldn't be right to single out any Dublin player. Each one made a heroic contribution. Each one played as if his life, and the life of this beleaguered county, was on the line.

I appreciate many of our readers enjoy their golf and have plenty of time for the multi-million euro world-beating golf talent we have in Ireland.


But who could put a price on Dublin's fearsome challenge?

This country may be on its knees economically, but Dublin's hurlers, with a bit of positive motivational speaking from Anthony Daly and his selectors, showed that there's a reservoir of spirit that no grubby banker or speculator can touch.

Okay, Dublin lost. Someone has to. That's the way it works. But yesterday's performance made the blood rush, boosted our flagging pride and gave us all hope for the future.

Above all, hope.

Now that was some day's work! And you can depend on these lads to go even further. They owe it to themselves.