Let's keep Sam longer this time
Future looks very positive after superb final victory
IT'S been a long road for this group of Dublin players and along the way there have been some very sobering experiences, but yesterday all the bad memories were wiped away in 70 odd minutes of sheer theatre.
It was a remarkable end to an extraordinary game of football and the celebrations will go on for a long time to come. This was an occasion to saviour for every Dublin supporter lucky enough to get inside the ground and to the thousands of fans outside the gates.
As far as All-Ireland victories go, this was one of the most satisfying from a Dublin point of view. To a man, each player worked their socks off, just as they have been doing all year and for that sheer willingness to graft they got what they truly deserved.
This morning they will wake up as All-Ireland champions and for the likes of Alan Brogan, Barry Cahill, Stephen Cluxton and captain Bryan Cullen, it was a day they deserved for all the hard work over the last decade or so.
They came of age yesterday, along with so many others in the famous blue jersey -- especially the likes of Cian O'Sullivan, Kevin Nolan, Paul Flynn and Denis Bastick, who put in another lung-bursting shift.
Those sorts of victories live long in the memory and it was a pleasure to have witnessed it. It was a roller coaster ride from start to finish and it is a testament to the self belief in the present squad that they managed to finish the job despite the fact that the game looked to be slipping away with seven minutes left to play.
At that stage Kerry were four points in front and playing with huge momentum on their side. Dublin were making mistakes and giving needless frees away which were being punished by Bryan Sheehan and Colm Cooper in particular.
The Kerry supporters were in full voice at that stage but so too were Dublin's, although the previous 20 odd minutes were difficult to watch. Kerry, having trailed by three, outscored the Dubs by eight points to one, which is an astonishing statistic in itself but it wasn't enough and in the end Dublin found the resolve and the necessary scores to get over the line.
Kerry will look back at two crucial turnovers in that final period, from two of their most experienced players, which led to a goal and a point for the Dubs and the encouragement to go and win the game.
Declan and Tom O'Sullivan gave possession away but it was more to do with the pressure the Dublin players were putting on them, even at that late stage in the game. The goal was a real tonic for us and the ultimate sucker punch and once Kevin found the net, the writing was on the wall.
There was still time for Kerry to hold out but that goal came with an oxygen boost and the adrenaline began to rush through the players to telling effect.
The equalising score was a real cracker from Nolan, who picked a pass from Diarmuid Connolly and expertly pointed from 40 yards.
The stadium was rocking for the closing minutes and the noise levels went through the roof as Bernard Brogan pointed with the left foot from under the Cusack stand. At that stage the win looked to be in the bag but Kerry came back with an amazing score by Kieran Donaghy to level things up.
A draw just might have been a fair result and I don't think that anyone would have been unhappy coming back to do it all again, but Dublin were not to be denied on this occasion.
Cluxton has been a terrific goalkeeper for a decade but his winning kick will be remembered for a long time to come. It was an ice cold finish from a player who has no peers when it comes to commitment and honesty.
Kerry had no time to come back after that and the final whistle ended so many years of disappointments and near misses for so many of these Dublin players.
Having said that, there are a significant number of young players on the team and in the squad so the immediate future looks very positive.
It will be a week of celebrations and the Cup will visit the same parts of Dublin it visited 16 years ago and a few new ones too. The school kids will get to touch the magical trophy and get their pictures with their heroes.
It is a huge confidence boost for the county and the feel-good factor associated with this win should do wonders for the further development of football going forward. It really was a fantastic day and a result to remember.
It was also great to see the players celebrating with Paul Caffrey after the game. He experienced some disappointing days as manager but the respect the players have for him was there for everyone to see.
It would have been the perfect day had we managed to pick up the minor title also but to be fair to Tipperary they kept going until the death and got what they deserved in the end. It was a great year for Dessie and the lads but he will be disappointed that it ended with defeat yesterday. There is real progress at underage level and that is set to continue into the future with so many past players getting involved with development squads.
Congratulations to both senior and minor squads for what has been an excellent year. Sam is home.
Let's keep him for a little while longer this time.