Wednesday 16 January 2019

jackies so near gold

Dublin manager salutes the Blues and tips hat to Leeside legends

TG4 have shown some thrillers over the years. But not even Clint Eastwood, John Wayne or Maureen O'Hara could have come close to Sunday's drama.

The opening credits began at 2.30 just past Fairview Park as the sirens sounded.

It was Cork on their way to their favourite front garden, complete with a Garda escort.

Ten minutes later, the out-riders were clearing the traffic again. The Jackies were on board. Sailing proudly up Clonliffe Road.

Back in the Promised Land for the first time since 2010. The year they struck the jackpot.

The weather was kind. A little overcast perhaps, but mild. Perfect for football.

A steady throng were making their way to the Jones's Road. Over 27,000 came through the turnstiles.

They included two Presidents, Michael D and Pat Quill. The Dublin players looked relaxed on the red carpet.

There was time to smile and to breathe in the atmosphere. On days like these, it's a privilege to be wearing the boots.

Cork took the chalice by a single putt. Just like they had done in 2009.

And the scenario was the same. Cork, with their one-point lead, playing down the clock with the sure hands of the Harlem globe-trotters.

Perhaps, this was the greatest victory of all. The team has such deep resolve.

And it comes from the top. Eamonn Ryan is a remarkable manager.

It's younger he's getting. And his enthusiasm for the sport just keeps on burning.

In Cork, they have had some renowned managers over the years - Jimmy Barry Murphy, Billy Morgan and Dave Bacuzzi.

Ryan also walks tall in the Leeside Hall of Fame.

Cork settled so quickly.

But then Dublin began to impose themselves. And their energy and strong running had Cork on the back foot.

Cork missed an ocean of chances. They hit 10 first-half wides. And they dropped a bag full of balls into Cliodhna O'Connor's front porch.

The Blues were bubbling. They played into the Hill 16 end. The famous terrace was empty but covered with Dublin and Cork flags.

Maybe one day it will echo to the sound of 'Come on you girls in Blue.'

At half-time, it was 1-7 to 0-4 for the Dubs. Lindsay Peat had sped away for the goal.

She got her second five minutes into the second period. Soon, Cork trailed by ten points.

It looked all over. But, gradually, Red FM began to turn up the volume.

Valerie Mulcahy slipped a pass to Rhona Ní Bhuachalla. Rhona found the net. The Lee began to swell.

And, incredibly, six minutes from time, Eimear Scally's goal had them level - 2-11 each.

Siobhan Woods put Dublin ahead by a point. Ciara O'Sullivan equalised.

And then came Geraldine O'Flynn with the golden shot.

Nobody deserved it more. All day, she had been taking the game to the Dubs, even when things looked at their bleakest.

The hooter sounded. Cork 2-13; Dublin 2-12. Dublin sank to their knees.

Gregory McGonigle walked through the tunnel and into the Press Room.

He wasn't seeking pity. He came to hail the champions … and to salute his own heroes.

And he revealed that Dublin's build-up had included a motivational talk from the Gian Paul Gonzales organisation.

"He had spoken to the New York Giants in 2011 and turned around their season. We dropped him an email," said McGonigle.

"A guy flew in from Philadelphia at his own expense. The talk he gave has probably changed young girls' lives. And my life as well.


"And it's not just about football. It's all about how you approach your everyday life.

"We have a saying 'all-in', and the Dublin players know exactly what that means. They have a serious bond.

"It's not just about putting on a jersey. Anybody can buy a jersey in na shop. It's about having heart in the jersey."

And Gregory stated that it was not a match that the Dubs let slip through their gloves.

"You have to take your hat off to Eamonn and Cork. We never at any stage felt that we had the game won.

"That's ok if you were leading by a point and there were ten seconds left on the clock.

"You could then kick the ball onto the Jones's Road or into the Davin Stand. But we weren't in that position."

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