Fingal’s heroes central in painting town blue

by Cóilín Duffy

THOUSANDS turned out for Dublin’s double All-Ireland Senior Football winning celebrations in Merrion Square on Sunday, with plenty of Fingal stars among those honoured at the official homecoming organised by Dublin City Council.

There was a party atmosphere in the city centre from early afternoon for the family friendly event, with the players from both the senior men’s and ladies football squads honoured at the Mansion House, before travelling to Merrion square where 16,000 fans gathered for the all-ticket event.

It was the first time both the two sides shared the stage for such an event, with the men celebrating their historic five-in-a-row All-Ireland success; and the women being honoured after delivering All-Ireland silverware for the third year in-a-row for the first time.

“The big thing with this is the connection we have within the squad and the bond we have with each other.

“ I suppose the bond we have as Dublin people as well, ” Castleknock’s Ciaran Kilkenny said on stage.

“Driving in this morning and seeing all the flags, and all the people around – it’s really, really special, and to see the girls as well. It’s something we’ll cherish for the rest of our lives.”

Eric Lowndes has showed his versatility in this Dublin squad and recent years and is delighted to be involved.

“I’m just happy to play anywhere and fit into the team and do a job,” the St Peregrine’s clubman said.

Fingal Ravens man Darren Daly was joined on stage by his son Odhran.

Darren said the draw with Kerry helped focus the mind.

“Like every other game we have, we look at the last game and see how we can improve,” he said.

“It was a short run-in to the next game. In that week we just worked on the areas that we could improve upon and I think we did that.”

Dublin ladies football captain Sinead Aherne was delighted with the reception received at Merrion Square.

“It’s some day,” she said.

“To look out on a huge crowd of blue faces looking back at you, it is very special for our team to celebrate with our team-mates, our families and all of the fans that came in today.”

The St Sylvester’s player said when she started out playing for Dublin she couldn’t have envisaged days like this.

“I’ve been playing for a long time at this stage. Our first All-Ireland win was in 2010 with Denise Masterson as our captain.

“To even compare that day to what we see here today is a huge change I suppose in how things have shifted.

“It’s great to be a part of a day like today, and hopefully ladies football can continue to grow over the next number of years.”

Goalkeeper Ciara Trant says winning a third All-Ireland title in-a-row is special.

“We went through the tough days together and then to come out the right side of the result for the next three years has been fantastic,” the St Brigid’s player said.

“It’s brought us closer together and we have memories now that will last with us for the rest of our lives. Days like today are going to carry with us.”

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