Dublin GAA fans proclaim their love for Boys in Blue
Thousands of ecstatic fans hail All-Ireland winners on O’Connell Street
“Dublin. The city that fought an empire” was the message on a fan’s T-shirt at the homecoming for the victorious Dublin senior footballers. The GAA county board might contemplate issuing their own T-shirts after Sunday’s All-Ireland final proclaiming: “Dublin. The team that toppled a Kingdom.”
Thousands of ecstatic Dublin supporters came together under a baby-blue sky on O’Connell Street to hail the first Dublin team to conquer their ancient rivals three times in a row.
The Fianna and the other tribes gathered from all over the city and county – they came from Ballymun, Clontarf, Kilmacud, St Brigid’s and St Vincent’s and Whitehall to pay tribute to their heroes for their daring rescue of Sam Maguire from captivity in the Kingdom.
After a warm welcome from Dublin Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh and an introduction by RTÉ’s Des Cahill, the Boys in Blue came on stage to bask in the adoration of their many fans close to the GPO.
Jim Larkin’s hands were raised skyward, perhaps in a gesture of grateful appreciation, as captain Stephen Cluxton, accompanied by smiling manager Jim Gavin, held the much coveted trophy aloft for worship.
The inscription on the trade union leader’s statue reads: “The great only appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise.” Gavin and his predecessors have clearly hammered that message home into this determined Dublin squad.
They have marched, as Yeats said of others, with “hearts with one purpose alone, Through summer and winter”, leading to a proud record of three All-Ireland victories in the last five years.
Six-foot-four Bryan Fenton was introduced by Cahill as Dublin’s official new heartthrob, while northsider Dean Rock entertained the crowd with a rollicking rendition of The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). Kevin McManamon represented the southside with Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl.
The celebrations ended with warm thanks to the supporters and a clear message from the fans for Alan Brogan with chants of: “One more year.” Alan was giving nothing away.
Legendary Anton O’Toole, known as the Blue Panther in the glory days of the 1970s, said Gavin’s men had matched the achievements of the revered Heffo’s heroes. “And they’re not finished yet,” he smiled.
Nicole Kenny and Lisa T, who play with Erin’s Isle, had travelled early from Finglas with their friend Jade Valentine to get a prime viewing spot. They were fans of Bernard Brogan, Cian O’Sullivan and Jack McCaffrey, the girls announced. “Ah, all of them,” Jade grinned.