Proud day for Dublin
After many years of heartache, bringing home Sam is nothing less than Blue heroes deserve
FIRST and foremost, it was a very special and proud day to be a Dub. The achievement of the lads in winning their first All-Ireland in 16 years is a testimony to their character and battling qualities.
Not once did they look like they were dead and buried and even when Kerry went four points ahead, that mental toughness shone through to edge them over the line.
Sadly, it was unfortunate that the minors weren't able to see out their final against Tipperary but they can be very proud of their efforts over the year and they more than played their part in what was an exceptional minor final.
I'd expect to see a lot of those lads coming through in the next few years, increasing Dublin's options and the seniors' win will do the world of good to Dublin football in the long run.
Coaching the kids might present a problem though as I can imagine all of them will want to play in goals and take all the frees, such was the influence that Stephen Cluxton's winning free had in what was a nervy encounter, perhaps lacking in quality from previous years.
That won't make a jot of difference to Dublin supporters today, who have endured some awful days down the years and I'd imagine they're enduring some awful but happy hangovers today.
That Cluxton was allowed the opportunity to kick Dublin to an All-Ireland was largely down to the mental strength and physicality that they brought to the game.
Certainly, Joe McQuillan didn't have his finest day and I thought Dublin were the beneficiaries of a few curious decisions, but having said that, I doubt that genuine Kerry fans would quibble too much with the result.
A draw was perhaps the most equitable conclusion but Dublin deserve huge kudos for finishing the game in such a strong and powerful manner and if ever you wanted someone to step up to the plate in those circumstances, Cluxton would be the man.
He seems to play the game almost like in a bubble and doesn't allow external circumstances to affect him in the slightest. He strolled up to the ball like he was out in St David's, training with Parnells and the man must have nerves of steel to do what he does on such a regular basis.
Of course, Cluxton was just one of many Dublin heroes on the day with Kevin McManamon once again giving Dublin added impetus when introduced and his goal gave Dublin's flagging challenge a much needed shot of adrenaline.
To outscore your opponents by 1-3 to 0-1 in the last eight minutes is a huge reflection on the desire and belief that permeates this Dublin side.
They've experienced some huge disappointments in recent years yet have learnt from their mistakes and come back a better and more balanced side and the effort they put into training this year, with the ultimate goal of reaching their Holy Grail, has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Kevin Nolan has been one of Dublin's unsung heroes this year and he put in another awesome 70 minutes yesterday, with his inspirational point a fitting reflection of his contribution to Dublin's success this year.
He was an integral part of a Dublin game plan that imposed itself on Kerry in the opening half, managing to keep things tight and disrupting Kerry's flow, with only 1-2 conceded in the first-half a remarkable statistic given Kerry's talent in attack.
Jack O'Connor made the necessary changes in the second-half, with Kieran Donaghy redeployed on the edge of the square and Kerry funnelling players back towards midfield to pick up breaking ball.
That plan seemed to be bearing fruit as well as negating Cluxton's influence from kick-outs as Kerry seemed to be seizing the initiative while Dublin's defending became increasingly ragged and ill-disciplined, with some silly frees conceded after the break.
Having said that, they never looked to be playing to their optimum and that is largely down to the Herculean efforts of Dublin in forcing turnovers. Kerry's defence lost shape when Eoin Brosnan was replaced, with Dublin taking advantage of the holes created by his departure.
Dublin's tactics almost directly replicated those adopted by Tyrone in their wins over Kerry in the last eight years, when the Kingdom were spooked by a swarming defence and critically, it worked to a certain degree for Dublin yesterday.
As I said earlier, a draw might have been the fairest eventuality and the whole country would've looked forward to a replay but I'm thrilled that is not the case.
I've played with a large number of these lads in recent times and I'm so happy that they got over the line. People like David Henry, Alan Brogan, Mossy Quinn, Stephen Cluxton and a whole load of other lads have worked their hearts out to win an All-Ireland.
I'm so proud of what they achieved yesterday as I know the efforts they've put in and losing yesterday would have been unbearable for the panel.
Thankfully, we needn't concern ourselves with that hypothetical.