THE sun was splitting the timber in Portmarnock on Sunday. There was a cross-field breeze. It carried good news.
Dublin had already qualified for the NationalLeague Division 4 final where they'll play Carlow. Carlow showed what a good side they are by winning the dress rehearsal at Mearnóg, 0-8 to 1-3. They deserved it.
They say the Carlow jersey is the nicest of all in the GAA. Somebody once remarked it's like a packet of pastilles. There was much to savour in this display. Carlow had style and commitment. They were stopping for tea at the Poitín Stil on the way home. It was well-earned.
"We were a bit flat," admitted Dublin's Gerry McGough. "We just didn't perform.
"Carlow are certainly the best side we have faced this year, but it just wasn't our day. We'll go back now and work even harder in training."
Dublin didn't lack possession. There were frequent scrambles in front of the visitor's kitchen, but Carlow always emerged with the sliotar.
The hour had begun brightly for the Blues. Joelenne Hoary goaled in the seventh minute. But it was Carlow that led at the break, 0-5 to 1-1. Kate Nolan was proving accurate from the placed ball.
Ciara Mullins, Marian Doyle and Ciara Quirke were also showing their quality. Quirke's blistering first-half solo lit up the climate like the Olympic torch.
They were level twice in the first half. Lisa Berkeley produced Dublin's point. Mikaela Dunne's point two minutes into the second period brought parity for the last time.
Quirke and Nolan pushed Carlow ahead. Elaine Gallery replied with an elegant point, but Quirke's nugget in the 48th minute concluded the scoring.
Carlow remained secure in defence. Two minutes from time, Dublin's left half-back, Elaine Sherry, was red-carded. The final is pencilled in for April 22. The box office will be busy.