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Gallant hurlers keep Dub fans on the edge of their seats in thrilling clash

NO MATTER what happens with the footballers in the coming weeks, Dublin has new heroes to be proud of.

Despite being totally written off by the experts, the county's hurlers nearly pulled off the unbelievable at Croke Park.

Dublin pushed All Ireland champions Tipperary all the way but fell just short in pulsating game.

Fans were left to ponder what might have been had Anthony Daly's men not been hampered by a host of injuries.

And while they won't win the All Ireland to go with their League crown, the Blues showed signs of great things to come. Some 45,563 fans turned out for the momentous occasion at GAA HQ, to watch an enthralling encounter.

"It was a great sporting occasion for both teams and we were just unlucky in the end," said Dundrum man Brian Kelleher.

"It was so much better than everyone expected -- we were figured for a white wash, but it definitely wasn't that," said Emma Casey, girlfriend of Dubs hurler Declan O'Dwyer.

"Drawing at half time and leading throughout most of the first half proves their capabilities.

"It was the best they could do and I'm really proud of them," added Emma, from Mount Merrion.

Mick Monaghan from Ballinteer said: "Going in to it we expected Dublin to be beaten today -- but they gave a good account of themselves -- Tipp was always going to be tough. We have to take our hats off to Dublin, they've come a long way."

Eimear Mairtin, from Dundrum, gave the thumbs up to the lads and said they played a blinder.

"They could have maybe put more pressure on in the end but next year will definitely be our year. It was a little disappointing but these things happen," said Joseph Dromgule, from Swords, who brought his son Cormac (5) along.

One Dublin team did reach the final as the minors triumphed in their semi-final against Waterford.

Niamh Costello, proud sister of minors hero Cormac Costello -- who scored four of the six goals for his team -- was on hand to cheer from the stands. "I'm delighted for Cormac, they're thrilled to be through to the final," she said.

"The seniors played their best too and they were injury prone as well -- they did really well," 18-year-old Niamh said.

"Dublin put in a great performance, it was brilliant," said Dearbhaile Heavey, who hails from Kimmage.

"The minors had a fantastic day, a promising sign."

Castleknock couple John O'Reilly and Julie Duignan congratulated the Blues on their extreme effort.

"It was an amazing match, we certainly put it up to them, it could've went the other way.

"Tipp only managed to get one goal, which was quite lucky at the start of the game, so we held our ground," said Julie.

"We're happy we even got to the semi-final," said John.

Brendan Galvin, Blanchardstown, added: "It was one of the most exciting GAA matches we've ever been at -- because hurling at that level is totally new to Dublin -- it was a breath-taking experience."

Pal Sean O'Reilly agreed: "It was only the third hurling match I'd been to at Croke Park and they really smashed it -- I've no doubt the future for Dubs hurling is very bright.

"I hope Daly stays for the next couple of years," said Swords local Maurice O'Mahony.

See Sport and Eamon Carr on a heroic defeat, page 14


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