ON the way home from Birr on Sunday evening, Dublin stopped for their meal at the County Arms.
No All-Ireland U14 Championship trophy at the Dublin table, but it certainly won’t be the last supper for the young Jackies.
The blue-bricked road is paved with gold for these dedicated footballers who once again represented the capital with pride.
“The future is certainly positive for them. They can go on and play for the county at U16, minor and senior level,” predicts manager, Ken Nyhan.
The Brigid’s Brave hailed the heroics of the squad who stood toe to-toe with Cork, the All- Ireland U14 masters.
Cork won it by 5-12 to 3-5. It was their seventh All-Ireland U14 title. The Leeside river shows no sign of running dry.
But Ken insists the same is true for Dublin, who have lifted the crown three times and who were pipped by a point by Galway in last year’s final.
“Dublin football is in a good place. There’s huge talent and so much to build on,” remarked Ken.
Dublin never lacked spirit. They had several aces, who had some fruitful moments. They included Shauna O’Hara, Niamh O’Neill, Lauren Magee, Fiona Terry, Sarah Deegan, Amy Conroy and captain Fantastic herself, Emma Colgan.
Ken praised all his panel. He has enjoyed the journey. “I had such a wonderful management team. And if I had the chance to work with them again, I’d be delighted. Their advice was invaluable.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t come up trumps on the day, but it was such a great achievement for the girls to reach the All-Ireland final.
“And, once again, they put up one hell of an effort against Cork. They gave it everything. They left nothing behind them out on that pitch.”
And the same was true in their Leinster campaign which saw them beat Kildare, Wexford and Laois before overcoming Kildare again in the final.
Then there was the cherished win against Galway in the All- Ireland semifinal. “That was the big result for us,” mused Ken. “It showed that we were as good as any team out there.”
Cork went into the final as favourites. “It was a super game of football. There was good quality in it,” reflected the Dublin boss.
“Cork had very good forwards, but credit to our defence who stood up to them. It was only in the last 10 minutes or so that they began to pull away from us, but we played some excellent football all through.
“We used our possession well. We were able to create some promising scoring positions.
“The goal after half-time was a big lift. It brought us back to within a point. And I have to say we got fantastic support. The encouragement we got from the Dublin people was so encouraging. We really appreciated it.”
And Ken extends the same sentiment to every girl on the squad, and indeed to all those that turned up for trials at the start of the adventure.
And in the County Arms, he raised his glass to his fellow mentors – Deirdre Colgan (St Margaret’s), Paul O’Hara (Round Tower, Lusk), Pat Martin (St Brigid’s) and Tony Greer (Kilmacud Crokes).
The Leinster and All-Ireland expedition was packed with hard work, but fun too. And looking in the rear view mirror, and into the blue crystal ball, there is much to smile about. And much to text home about.