Rushe: Monumental victory gets Cats monkey off our backs...finally
Liam Rushe stepped in from a wild midlands night, towed down the dressing-room corridor by his colleagues' cries of revolution.
He wanted to be back with them, but journalists were drawn to the big Palmerstown kid like iron filings to a horseshoe magnet. A year ago, Kilkenny sent Dublin back to the same room like men trapped in a grim factory of disappointment. Now it was their playground.
"It was an abject defeat last year, we were so low after it you'd almost think of quitting," acknowledged Rushe. "This year, we've got that monkey off our backs. I know we've lost handsomely to them a few times before, but you just have to enjoy days like these."
It had been 71 years since Dublin lowered Kilkenny's colours in championship. "Yeah, it's monumental for us," said Rushe. "And it's been a long time coming."
For Anthony Daly, maybe longer than most. "Yeah, look, it's great to beat Kilkenny in championship hurling," smiled the Dublin manager. "I mean, I've been close before with Clare and with these boys maybe. But it's great. They're a great team – they're the best team I ever saw. I suppose ye'll have them written off now!"
Daly too referred to the residue of grief left by that 18-point trimming of 12 months ago. Dublin, he agreed, "didn't show up on the night", having put more store on that specific date (June 23) than the broad stretch of a full season.
This year, they come to business more streetwise.
Rather than listen to the resounding city pessimism last week decanted by TJ Reid's late equaliser in the drawn game, they looked inward. "We concentrated on ourselves" revealed Daly. "We deliberately said 'Look, we can do nothing about this backlash talk', what ye tell us about.
"If I got a euro for everyone that said 'pity' to me between last Sunday night and today, I'd have a few bob. So, we couldn't get wrapped up in that sort of negativity. We had to stay positive for ourselves and try to do that as a management."
For Brian Cody, the recognition that goading questions about the future of his great team were raining down now did not thieve him of his natural grace.
Despite injury depriving him of the last two Hurlers of the Year – Michael Fennelly and Henry Shefflin – he was reluctant to take any focus from Dublin's historic win.
"Well, like, if I haven't made excuses before I'm not going to start making them now" said Cody. "You have what you have and that's the way it works. You don't legislate for that, you don't want it to happen. But you know you go out and play with what you have. The better team on the night always wins."