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Monday 20 August 2018

Captain Cullen's tribute to Gilroy

HE'S responsible for one of the most memorable addenda to an victorious All-Ireland speech of all time.

Bryan Cullen's exclamation: "see yis in Coppers!" may well have sent the bouncers on the famous Harcourt Street institution into overdrive and, doubtless, he'll spend a least a small portion of his winter there.

But there was a time when his rite-of-passage was shrouded in doubt. Ever since Cullen was a teenager, he was earmarked to captain Dublin to an All-Ireland.

Yet in the early days of Pat Gilroy's reign, he wasn't even a permanent fixture in the team.

A subsequent back injury even put his career in jeopardy but the hardship was part of the learning curve. "I was in and out of the team so it was a great eye-opener for me," he explained. "What I realised was that this thing was going to go ahead with or without me. It gave me determination to knuckle down and get back into the team and I think it has made me a better team player.

"Pat looked to me at the start of the year and gave me the opportunity, which I jumped at.

"I obviously thought that we had a great chance.

"It was a bit surreal. When you're up there looking around in a daze. We've had some heartbreaks over the years and probably thought at times that this day was never going to come.

"The lads have done a fabulous job since they took over. They changed the whole mindset of the squad and turned around the careers of lads who looked finished, including myself. So we had only them to thank."

In the run-up, Dublin refused to entertain the belief that an All-Ireland won at Kerry's expense was worth two. Having achieved it, Cullen engaged is some light revisionism. "It's definitely worth two," he enthused. "People will look back at different opportunities missed in previous years. But all those defeats have defined the team and made us the team we are today."

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