Dublin homecoming: 20,000 welcome heroes of renown
Kevin McManamon is saviour turned singer as jubilant fans celebrate three-in-a-row
Kevin McManamon has so often been the saviour for Dublin, usually from the bench, as demonstrated with the critical goal he got in 2011 to land the county’s first All-Ireland in 16 years.
Less well known is his talent as a singer unless you are one of his friends, like broadcaster Marty Morrissey.
Morrissey was the compere for Dublin’s three-in-a-row homecoming in Smithfield, off the city quays, on Monday night. “Give us a song, I know you can sing” Morrissey said, handing McManamon the microphone.
“Ya bollix,” McManamon replied.
Nevertheless, he have a fine rendition of the Pete St John standard Dublin in the Rare Ould Times.
Marty Morrissey confirmed that he is, as the impressionists Oliver Callan and Mario Rosenstock have depicted him, a man who likes to party “and if there is one man I like to party with it’s Kevin McManamon”.
Never mind being reared on songs and stories, it is the heroes of renown that the 20,000 fans who filled Smithfield came to see the evening after Dublin beat Mayo by one point in the All-Ireland final.
“It’s a great time to be a Dub,” said the county board chairman John Costello. He thanked everyone who turned out on a beautiful autumn evening in contrast to last year when the homecoming was accompanied by nasty rain and wind.
It’s not so great if you are a Mayo supporter or a GAA fan in one of the other aspiring counties who must be wondering who, if anyone, can stop this Dublin team winning four in a row - or, whisper it, go one better than the Kerry team who narrowly failed to win the five-in-a-row in 1982.
Unlike McManamon, the Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton had to be good naturedly dragged to the microphone by his teammates.
He ought to be used to this. It’s his fourth All-Ireland lifting Sam as captain. He has perfected the art of talking about the team’s success as if it had nothing to do with him.
“Any one of these guys could be lifting the Sam, they are all leaders, each and every one of them,” he said.
“They are fantastic ambassadors for their sport, for their clubs and their families. Truly, they are gentlemen.”
“Did you always feel you would get across the line yesterday,” Morrissey asked him about such a finely balanced final which was won at the very end with a Dean Rock free.
Cluxton allowed a pause. “Yes, absolutely. These guys went into the game fully prepared. I don’t think there was any nerves because they were ready to go. To win by a point shows how good Mayo were.”
The rigorous preparations extended to Con O’Callaghan who scored a goal after less than two minutes of the final. He had studied the movements of the Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke in advance of the game.
In the space of a year O’Callaghan has won the senior All-Ireland, an under-21 All-Ireland football medal and an All-Ireland club hurling title with Cuala from Dalkey last March.
A big cheer was extended to selector Jason Sherlock, the star of the Dublin team of 1995. Big things were expected of that Dublin team, but it was the end for them and not the beginning. Was Sherlock nervous in those final minutes of Sunday’s final?
“Nah Marty, I trusted the process,” he joked.
The “process” could deliver a lot more nights like this in the future.