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Dublin legacy will be belief in positivity

By Declan Bogue

The long corridor beneath the Hogan Stand was something to behold. Leaning up against the Dublin team bus, chatting amiably to reporters was Michael Darragh Macauley.

Hobbling past on crutches, his hamstring in ribbons, came Eoghan O'Gara. "Giving interviews now Mick, you sell-out!" he chides his team-mate.

Johnny Cooper comes out sporting a black eye. A fresh cut just beneath Philly McMahon's left eye is seeping blood and pus and it looks like it might sting. You wouldn't be going near it with a dab of salt anyway.

Macauley's foot has a crude ice-packed strapped to it. It looks like a cast of extras on a war movie heading for their lunch break.

Out on the field, Rory O'Carroll had tweety birds circling his head after a monster hit on Enda Varley. On the edge of the square was no place for a man in his condition, so they sent Paul Flynn back to plug the gaps.

"I was screaming at him at one stage to go left or right," says Philly McMahon of his makeshift and temporary defensive colleague.

"He was giving out but I was telling him to mark. His calf was cramping up and I was trying to tell him to push across, so he needs a bit of coaching!"

Flynn himself is light-headed as he says, "To be honest with you I am just a wee bit out of sorts it was such a hard game. I don't feel 100% but to have two All-Irelands in the back pocket is unbelievable really.

"Rory had got a knock on the head so you do what you have to do for the team and I have no problem playing in goals if I had to, as long as we win the game by a point in the end.

"You couldn't leave him in there with the likes of Mickey Conroy and that in there. We opened a three-point gap there and it was important that we didn't concede a goal."

The enduring legacy of this team will be that they re-instated the possibility of winning major honours by playing an attractive brand of football.

When asked if the philosophy stemmed from the players, Flynn answers, "No, no. Jim has his tactics and his beliefs on how football should be played and that's the way it is.

"He gives us the template he wants us to play and everybody wants to express themselves within that template and that's what I think we have done all year."

With Sam stowed away for a tour of the city, attentions naturally turn to the possibility of retaining the cup.

It's becoming almost an impossible job as Flynn outlines, "I think the last five All-Irelands in the last five years have been won by five different teams before today. There are a lot of teams that have won, it's just amazing and hopefully that is not the end of it."

Dublin are champions for the 24th time. Yet, as manager Jim Gavin notes, other teams are already in the business of taking Sam off them. That's life.

Belfast Telegraph

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