Dalkey ‘ultras’ invade Croke Park as Cuala GAA make history

South Dublin club hired two private DARTs to ferry fans across city to witness victory

Dalkey’s invasion of Croke Park began early Friday as Cuala GAA supporters marched through the south Dublin village en route to their first All-Ireland hurling club final.

The club hired two private DARTs to ferry the fans over to the northside.

Cuala, one of the larger GAA clubs in Dublin, were seeking to be the first side from the capital to win an All-Ireland club hurling final.

And it proved to be their day as they saw off Ballyea by a comfortable, 11-point margin.

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The club’s fans gathered at their clubhouse from early afternoon, where there was music and face painting, before marching up though Dalkey town.

The GAA club’s chairman, Adrian Dunne (46) said it was brilliant to see the nearly 2,500 supporters turn out. “I’ve never seen anything like this, and possibly will never see anything like this again.”

Mr Dunne said the day was particularly emotional following the death of his father earlier this week.

“For the week that’s in it, with my father passing, this is the second big turnout this week for the club,” he said.

The club was like a family he added. It was “there for everybody, one big united family”.

For St Patrick’s Day, Dalkey had substituted green flags for the local club’s red and white colours. And the self-titled Cuala “ultras” got the marching crowd chanting as they wound their way through the streets to the DART station.

One such “ultra” Jack Twoomey (17) said the turnout from supporters was “brilliant”.

“We have the roads closed, everyone is around, everyone is buzzing.”

Twoomey, who lives in Stillorgan, plays for Cuala at minor level in midfield. “It’s an unbelievable achievement already so far to get to the final” he said.

“I’d never have imagined we’d do it.”

Mick Walsh (43), who works in Trinity College Dublin’s IT department, is one parent involved in managing a club team. He said there was a “huge excitement” around the town.

“If you walk up the town you can see there’s flags, bunting, pictures of the club in windows. The town has really got behind us and it’s great to see.

“We’ve had a lot of support from other GAA clubs around Dublin, and indeed even the other local sports clubs, everyone has wished us good look. It’s great to see such a good story for the locality.”

The club’s secretary Paddy Murdock, a 43-year-old software engineer, said to be in the final for both the club and the community “was absolutely massive”.

“I would have watched club All-Ireland hurling finals religiously over the last 25 years, and always with a little bit of jealously that there was never a Dublin side there. We’re here now. It’s nearly surreal to be honest; what a day for the club.”

Supporters are due to return to the Dalkey clubhouse Friday evening where a reception is planned.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times