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dreams come to life at hq

MILD and magical in the big house yesterday. Allianz Cumann na mBunscol finals day.

Sixteen, football matches, 32 teams, three pitches. GAA HQ Croke Park was jumping.

The supporters ran up the steps at the back of the Cusack Stand like Rocky Balboa.

A million pictures were taken. All framed to last a lifetime.

Across the pitch walked the legendary Nicky English in a suit and tie.

His son, Alex, was playing for St Mary's of Booterstown.


Emmet Hallinan was stewarding. He managed St Joseph's Terenure to eight Croke Park titles. He played at midfield on the winning Cork side in the 1969 All-Ireland MFC final against Derry, who included the Irish manager, Martin O'Neill.

Neal Billings, of St Vincent's, was on duty with St Mary's of Garristown.

Willie Murtagh was in the building. A legend of Crumlin and Dublin GAA.

Leading ref and Cumann na mBunscol official, David Gough, was also present.

When he's not blowing the whistle, David could give Andy Murray a run for his money.

Inside at the Muhammad Ali corner, the faithful gathered for the tea and sandwiches. Memories were shared of the day Denis Irwin marked Niall Quinn in the Dublin-Belfast game.

Austin Finn took the pictures that day. Yesterday, St Colmcille's, Knocklyon and Bishop Galvin played for the Austin Finn Shield. They put on an exhibition that would have done the great man proud.

The Lord Mayor of South Dublin County Council, Fintan Warfield, arrived to enjoy the show. Ballyroan produced a lovely programme. Pádraig Harrington was in it. One year, Pádraig marked Dessie Farrell.

The excitement was bubbling. One lad forgot his boots. A fast car was sent back to Terenure College.

Terenure have a diamond in Gonzalo Jimenez. He's not long playing Gaelic football. Fr Michael Troy said he signed him from Real Madrid!

And there were family matters to discuss. Liam ó Riain was playing for Scoil Lorcain of Monkstown. His uncle, Eamon, was one of the Scoil Aine, Shankill mentors.

"Liam rang me on Wednesday night to wish me good luck!" smiled Eamon.

The action just hummed along. The referees hadn't a card between them.

David Walsh of Realt na Mara is a full-back in the Dermot Deasy class.

The Sanymount school are one of the founder members of the Cumann na mBunscol. Ted Coooling taught there. He was a pillar of the Dublin GAA. His daughter, Deirdre Cooling-Nolan, is the noted opera singer.

The Stars were singing on the way home to the seaside.

The pupils of Scoil Martin De Porres in Tallaght were also humming after they collected the Matt Griffin prize.

Their midfielder, Fionn Murray, excelled. He takes the frees off the turf with all the style of Jimmy Keaveney and Barney Rock. His favourite players are Paul Flynn and Diarmuid Connolly.

The Aylsbury aces had one girl in the panel, Chloe Munnelly. She was outstanding. So was Junior Ozhianvuna. Seventeen of the squad are with Thomas Davis.

Last year, Martin De Porres completed a Croke Park double. And there's more to come.

The Croke Park Cumann na mBunscol carnival resumes on Monday week.

All are invited to the party.