Victory a tribute to Dessie – one of the true blue good guys I’ve ever met

by Gazette Reporter
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Talk about a bad sense of timing – I got to Ireland early this week to play some exhibition games with Dennis Taylor and  the joy of the Dublin victory was all around the capital. I had to make do with watching a recording of the game – but in one sense it was an easier watch as I knew the result when I sat down.

It was one heck of a game in terms of the way the two teams went hammer and tongs at each other in pursuit of Sam. You’d expect nothing less of the two most successful teams in gaelic football history and I must admit for a while there in the second half, I thought Kerry had got the upperhand and would kick on to victory.

Dublin though have not been six-in-a-row champs for nothing and when the going got tough, they certainly got going. Dessie Farrell is one of the good guys of Irish sport; I admire him for the way he goes about his business without any fanfare. Make no mistake about it, this was his All Ireland because had he not got Paul Mannion, Stephen Cluxton and Jack McCaffrey to come back into the fold, I don’t think Sam would be resting on the banks of the Liffey this week.

It was a tour de force in managerial aptitude the way he got the old timers and the young lads to forge an unbreakable bond for this win which means Cluxton, Skipper James McCarthy and defender Mick Fitzsimons now stand on a pedestal never before attained with nine All Ireland medals each. What a glorious epoch it has been for these warriors and for all those involved since 2011 when Bryan Cullen lifted the first of the nine titles that have come to the capital since that day.

Kerry put it up to the Dubs and it was obvious that Jack O’Connor wanted to win his first back-to-back Sam wins in the same way as the players wanted to collect a second medal. David Clifford had three efforts he would normally put over with his eyes closed but on the day luck was with Mick Fitzsimons his marker, and those balls went wide of the uprights. That’s how little there was between success and failure – probably inches for the shot that screamed wide of Cluxton’s post and a foot when his left and right footed shots drifted away from the uprights at the last second when usually such attempts would have the umpire bending to wave white flags.

When people talk about the difference between the reaction to success and failure, I always think of the reception I got when I came back to Dublin as World Champion in ’97 with an open top bus tour of the city and thousands saluting that win against Stephen Hendry at the Crucible. The following year I was beaten in the final and when I arrived back in Dublin Airport, there was no one there. Worse still, I even had to pay for my own taxi home to Ranelagh!

Dessie  deserved this victory and  I bet it might turn out to be the most memorable for many of the squad considering the circumstances under which it was achieved. This time last year Dublin was in Division 2 and it looked like they were starting to fade into the background as a team. Winning their division by beating Derry in the final and then cantering through Leinster again before meeting and beating Mayo, Monaghan and Kerry in the last three knockout games shows how much they have improved. C’mon you boys in blue!

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