Croker cracker as Dubs and Lilies get summer going with a bang
FANS' DELIGHT: Double bill gives GAA season a massive boost
THERE'S nothing like the Dubs and Lilies on a glorious Sunday in Croke Park to mark the beginning of the summer.
And there was no better setting for yesterday's battle between Dublin and Kildare to announce the start of the football championship proper.
The auld enemies gave the GAA the kick-start it badly needed after weeks of forgettable encounters between substandard opponents.
And as you would expect between the two giants of Leinster football, this was a full blooded affair, with controversies, a sending off and last- minute drama.
Once again the Dubs came out on top to march into almost certain Leinster glory, against Wexford in a fortnight.
It was the Brogans who led the way again with a magnificent performance from Alan Brogan, with Bernard not too far behind.
And it seems the entire Brogan clan came out to cheer the boys on. And there's nothing like a Brogan to strive for perfection. Take cousin Ian Brogan for a critical example.
"There were a few mistakes, but we've done it and we're on our way to the finals," honest Ian told the Herald. "They need to keep the head down, don't make stupid tackles, take the points when we can."
Fellow relative Sharon Reilly, was more upbeat in her assessment of the match.
"It was a fantastic game, Alan and Bernard played superbly," said Sharon. "The whole family came to the match and it was a brilliant day, for everyone."
An impressive 58,000 GAA supporters turned out for the double bill, which also saw Wexford thump Carlow in the other Leinster semi-final.
Pals Michelle Moran and Shauna Kearney from Palmerstown, were among the thousands of Blues fans on the edge of their seats. "The last few seconds was nail-biting stuff but we were thrilled with the score in the end."
Kevin O'Callaghan and his son Ross (15) from Walkinstown, went along to the semi with Meath local Frank Flynn: "It was an absolutely fantastic match -- they came back well with their goal and did what they had to do.
"We've been on many losing scores like that so it's our time now -- I think they'll improve as the championship goes on.
"There were a few scary moments but they pulled through," Ross added.
Kara Conneely, originally from Boston, living in George's Quay goes to all the games in her Blue strip.
"It was unreal, the highlights for us were the goal and definitely Brogan's free at the end."
Dubs fans Maria Dalton, Damien Barry and Graham Barry who hail from Leixlip inside enemy Kildare lines, knew Gilroy's men would come out victorious. "We couldn't face going back to Kildare if they lost, we're so happy."
Cousins Niall Kelly, from Clane, Kildare and Feargal Kilmurray, from Santry, forgot about their family ties to cheer on opposing sides: "Kildare weren't at the races at all, up front they were lacking a bit."