Anthony Daly bore a smile as wide as the Liffey after Kilmacud Crokes booked their place in the Dublin Senior Hurling Final on October 21st, with a well-deserved win over Cuala on Sunday.
Crokes failed in their last two outings to the Dalkey men, both in Championship deciders, but gave a brilliant showing against the reigning All-Ireland champions to finish deserving winners this time around.
“We are just relieved,” Daly said.
“I think Mattie (Collins) got a hurley to something in the end that saved us. It gives us huge concerns for the final I’d have to say, because we completely lost our shape there.
“That won’t do against a ‘Boden side that everyone has fancied from the start of the year.
“We are on the other side of it now I suppose having knocked out Cuala. Eventually all great teams will be beaten.
“To me they have been just outstanding Champions. I would equate what they have done with Dublin winning the four-in-a-row with the football.
“They have been just brilliant, brilliant champions. Again, today when all seemed lost for them at nine points down, and they just bring us down to the pin of our collar, so massive credit to Mattie and all his men around him.
“I was in their dressing room there and they are just devastated, and all they have won. That’s a sign that they are fantastic champions.”
Cuala looked impressive against Lucan Sarsfields in the previous round, but Daly said his side were well primed to counteract them.
“They did look very good that day I’d have to say. Lucan’s game-plan back-fired a bit, whereas we decided to engage a bit more upfront and shove on.
“We are over the line today and we are in the gym tomorrow evening.
Daly was delighted by his team performance, with some big displays throughout the pitch.
“Bill (O’Carroll) I thought was outstanding,” Daly said.
“You have to consider this time last year he hadn’t played for Dublin really, whereas he has the year under his belt now with Pat (Gilroy) which has really stood to him.
“Then Ross (O’Carroll) and (Niall) Corcoran – what a performance. Jamie Clinton was shaky early on but settled. Lorcan McMullen was very good at midfield and Sean McGrath did great stuff.”
But Daly concedes his side need much more if they are to account for Ballyboden St. Enda’s in the decider.
“We still aren’t at that level of performance I was on about the last day. We showed a bit of it today.
“We are a team that was meant to not be scoring goals and then you get a few goals, so hurling is mad.
“I wouldn’t take too much notice to what is being said or predicted, but we are delighted to be in the final. That was the target starting out the year. It’s weird I suppose beating Cuala and not having a Cup, but that’s the reality of it now.”