** James McCarthy kicks the ball forward, from the throw-in, in the move that led to the first minute Dublin goal. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
James McCarthy and Con O’Callaghan were among the leading lights as Dublin further wrote themselves into the All-Ireland history books last Saturday in Croke Park.
For McCarthy, alongside Stephen Cluxton, he has lined out in the starting team in each of Dublin’s last eight championship final successes.
Both join rarefied company to win that many titles and the Ballymun Kickhams man was delighted to have been afforded the possibility when the 2020 season looked set to be scrapped.
“It’s such a challenging year for people and just to get out and play has been brilliant,” McCarthy said afterwards, adding this title to the Dublin senior club championship won with Kickhams.
“We’ll reflect over Christmas and just think about it. It was a special year, especially earlier on in the year with the club as well and to the two Small brothers, I’m very close to them, their ad passed away this time last year so this is extra special for them.
“It’s incredible and I’m delighted to join such company, I suppose.
“Just the year that’s in it, such a tough year…a long year and I suppose everyone is at home watching, so it’s great to be able to play and put on a performance for people at home, yeah I’m delighted.”
He also paid tribute to the opposition who were right in the mix until a big final quarter push from the Dubs.
“There’s no better team to just rattle into you and put you under so much pressure like Mayo do. We were gasping for air at times there in the first half, they really brought it to us.
“We had to compose ourselves a little in the second half, just got a few crucial scores so we’re happy out.”
Cuala’s O’Callaghan, meanwhile, said the side never gets tired of winning.
“Every year, it all starts again. It is a massive challenge every year and we want to go out and win that All-Ireland so we never get tired ft it and when it comes off, it is beautiful.”
He was named player of the match and his first half goal was a vital cog in the final success, a wonderful flowing team move completed with his resounding thump.
“It is something that you try to visualise and when it comes off, it is really nice. There was a lot of good team play. We have a lot of great players but the sum of the parts is probably even greater – even though we do have those great players – so we are always striving to get our best performance. Maybe we didn’t get our best one today but the important thing is we have the cup.”
As for celebrations, O’Callaghan said it will be different with no spectators on hand but it is something to be cherished nonetheless.
“We still know that we’ve done something special here,” he said. “It’s obviously important for everyone at home to celebrate at home and stay responsible over the Christmas period but we’re still going to enjoy this time even if it is just in our little bubbles with the families. It’s a really special time for us.”