Sam makes them dance at the crossroads, Dublin-style

A cheering crowd of 30,000 turned out to celebrate Stephen’s Day

Dublin fans celebrate in Merrion Square Dublin where Dublin City Council held a reception for the Dublin All Ireland football champions. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Dublin fans celebrate in Merrion Square Dublin where Dublin City Council held a reception for the Dublin All Ireland football champions. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Tue, Sep 24, 2013, 06:45

The Dubs’ homecoming party took place just up the road from the National Maternity Hospital, where many’s a nervous father has paced the floors over the years.

So it was no surprise that Stephen Cluxton looked a bit strained last night, even after he took possession of a (non-bouncing) 12-pound bundle of joy called Sam and showed it off to his extended family.

Mind you, the Dublin captain and goalkeeper is notoriously shy of publicity. And the extended family in this case was put at about 30,000, who crowded into and around Merrion Square to catch a glimpse of Sam Maguire and the team that delivered it.

So maybe it was the awesome responsibilities of parenthood – and the thought of the multiple other outings he faces over the next year – that put the worried look Dublin captain’s eyes.

What he lacked in party spirit, the rest of the new All-Ireland champions more than made up for, even if some of them looked like they needed a hospital of a different kind.

Master of ceremonies Des Cahill gave special mention to the full-back line, who he suggested deserved military medals to go with the ones they got for winning the football.

Actually, the worst that Johnny Cooper and Philly McMahon had to show for the heroics against Mayo was a matching pair of black eyes. And at least one wag (“that’s only marker!”) was unimpressed at their sacrifice for the cause.

A Dublin All-Ireland homecoming is an odd concept. In fact the team had travelled all of about a mile and a quarter from the Docklands hotel where they spent Sunday night.

If a certain prominent Mayo supporter was paranoid, he might have thought the venue for the official celebration was chosen to taunt him. He must certainly have been able to hear the celebrations from his office in Government Buildings.

But the Taoiseach apparently resisted any urge to go home early. A spokesperson said he was working normally last night.

This was dancing at the crossroads, Dublin-style. The stage was set up at the southeast corner of Merrion Square, with big screens relaying the pictures in three directions, and the fourth – Mount Street – reserved for the back-stage area.

The Dubs’ support acts included Monaghan singer-songwriter Ryan Sheridan and his band, who provided the pre-show music, including a version of Molly Malone. Trad band Seo Linn entertained the crowd too, as did a giant screen replaying the highlights of Sunday’s match.

The final whistle and the lifting of the cup were cheered again, raucously, as if the crowd hadn’t seen the script in advance.

But for sheer boisterousness, nothing matched the team itself performing the Auld Triangle and proving that, if they ever have to give up the day jobs, they’ll be in trouble.

The team had earlier been treated to an official reception at the Mansion House. In keeping with tradition, however, the first stop after the Merrion Square party was the club of the winning captain.

Two years ago, it was Bryan Cullen’s Skerries. And after a day when temperatures in the capital touched 24 degrees – one for every Dublin All-Ireland – it would have been good weather for the seaside this time too, had the occasional allowed.

But thanks to this being Stephen’s Day, 2013 was the turn of Parnell’s in Coolock, and the new €22 million clubhouse – opened only last year.

A Garda motorcycle escort accompanied the open-top bus to the club, where thousands more were expected to gather and where Stephen’s Day continued into the night.