Awesome spectacle in a sea of blue and green
DEJECTED Meath supporters shuffled silently through discarded hotdog wrappers and empty plastic glasses as they exited Croke Park following an exciting Leinster final yesterday.
You could not help but feel a little sorry for them after the losing team had fought back so bravely to peg back Dublin.
They say blue and green never should be seen but a sea of 70,000 Dublin and Meath jerseys produced an awesome spectacle.
Pre-match, Dubs fans were buoyant and confident of a win for their team -- there was no room for doubt, regardless of what the pundits were predicting.
Among them was one young couple, Alison Manning, from Co Meath, and her Dubliner boyfriend Barry Kiely, from Malahide, who were exchanging dirty looks by half time.
"Dublin better win or he will just be in a bad mood for the evening," said Alison, sporting a green and gold jersey.
"Yeah, we better win or I will face one hell of a slagging when I go to Alison's house. They always hang the Meath flag out when I visit," joked her boyfriend Barry.
Lifelong friends Thomas Rundle, originally from Dublin but living in Germany, and German national Seamus Schwanberg who lives in Dublin, were deep in conversation as they made their way to the Hogan Stand.
"I fly over especially for these matches, so Dublin better win," said Mr Rundle.
"It's funny, Seamus is the one showing me around Dublin these days because I've forgotten it. We never miss a Leinster Final. We have been going to the matches together for 40 years. We are very confident of a win today, fingers crossed," he said.
The banter between fans, some of whom had gone to the trouble of painting their entire torsos in their team's colours, remained jovial and civilised throughout and despite the ancient rivalry there was only occasional heckling among them.
Among the mix-up of blue and green was a frankly confusing family where mum and dad sported Dublin jerseys and their two young sons Dillon and Dean wore green.
"The boys were born in Bohermeen, Co Meath, they support Meath. It broke my heart to buy the jerseys for them, but what can you do?" said Dubliner Gary O'Meara.
"My wife is a Londoner, so she is kind of neutral but she is wearing blue today anyway, one way or the other someone is going to be heartbroken tonight," he added.
Dublin ultimately emerged the victors with a deserved 2-13 to 1-13 win.
"Ah, we are gutted," said Meath fan Bryan Barry, from Dunboyne, as he made the climb down from the lofty heights of the upper echelons of the Hogan Stand.
"They really came back there, for a few minutes I dared to think we were back in with a chance, great game though, incredible, now for a few pints," he said.