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Thursday 29 September 2016

Dubs break Kerry hearts to march on

Fans at Croke Park after Dublin's All-Ireland semi-final win over Kerry. Photo: Arthur Carron
Fans at Croke Park after Dublin's All-Ireland semi-final win over Kerry. Photo: Arthur Carron

Dublin star Philly McMahon dedicated the team's tense victory over Kerry to cancer victim 'Batman' Ben Farrell who died earlier this month.

Avid Dublin supporter Ben (5) passed away two weeks ago after a major fund-raising effort to allow him travel to the US for specialist treatment.

Despite the fierce rivalry between Dublin and Kerry supporters, a sell-out crowd of 82,000 at Croke Park came together to commemorate Ben.

A standing ovation began in the fifth minute and carried right around GAA headquarters for more than a minute in an outbreak of emotion for a little boy who had captured the hearts of not only Dublin but the rest of the nation in recent months.

Funds

All-Star defender McMahon was quick to show his feelings about 'Batman' Ben.

The Ballymun native tweeted a picture of himself in a Batman T-shirt and said it was Ben who helped the Boys in Blue get over the line against the Kingdom.

"The little Batman was watching over us #BatmanBen," he wrote.

Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton and David Byrne fail in their attempt to prevent Kerry's second goal by Paul Geaney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton and David Byrne fail in their attempt to prevent Kerry's second goal by Paul Geaney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

GAA teams across the capital, including the Dublin senior team and many other organisations, rowed in to raise much-needed funds for Finglas boy Ben, who had a stage four Wilms tumour and faced 19 rounds of radiotherapy.

He earned his nickname through his love of superheroes.

Leading doctors at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin said their options for saving Ben where running out. Ben's family had hoped he could take part in a clinical trial at a US hospital costing nearly €260,000.

The trials had shown promising results in laboratory tests.

Many familiar faces turned up to get behind both sides at Croke Park yesterday afternoon.

Some even decided to make a song and dance of it at the end.

Dubliners star Eamonn Campbell treated the droves of supporters leaving Hill 16 and the Hogan Stand to an impromptu gig.

The 69-year old rattled off four verses of Dublin favourite The Auld Triangle with the help of a few others.

The adopted Dub said the game was as difficult to watch as any other.

"At least I know I don't have a heart condition," he said.

Meanwhile, GAA broadcasting legend and Kerry man Micheal O'Muircheartaigh said this game will be remembered for years to come.

"People have been talking about the '77 semi-final for years, but from now on I think the semi-final of this year will be spoken of as well," he said.

Lamented

His Kingdom compatriot, former All-Ireland winner and Munster rugby legend Mick Galwey, lamented another classic encounter going against his county.

"It was a great effort, but unfortunately, all these classics, Kerry seem to be losing by a few points," he said. "Like 2013. I remember '77 as well - they died with their boots on."

Even the Rose of Tralee contestants enjoyed a great day out.

Kerry Rose Danielle O'Sullivan and Dublin Rose Lorna White admitted the banter between the two had built up throughout the week.

"With Kerry-Dublin it's always going to be close - sure there's always next year," said Danielle.

"I'm delighted the Dubs won - I was digging my nails into the seat in front of me," said Lorna.

"Now it's our turn for a while."

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