Where Now for Dublin on the Other Side of History?

Saturday night at Croke Park was a very special occasion. Historic moments do not come cheap in terms of the investment of time and energy that goes into creating them.

The fact there is no guarantee, that the record books are littered with those who came close but not quite there, make the final achievement greater still.

Dublin players were visibly in tears on the pitch as the enormity of what they had achieved hit home. Stephen Cluxton, the epitome of cool calm, began to choke as he started to speak from the Hogan Stand.

GAA President summed it up when speaking at the Dublin banquet later that night when talking of the 135-year history of the Association that this was a first in either the All Ireland Hurling or Football Championship.

Nature played its part with the vivid sunset providing a stunning backdrop over Hill 16 as the gold streamers came down from the stands and the fireworks were lit.

There were many moments along the way when this could have been derailed. It could have happened two weeks ago, or in either of the close finals against Mayo. But it didn’t. The history books have been rewritten by a team for the ages, led by a manager who has secured his personal place in history without ever putting a foot willingly forward into the spotlight.

History

They are together incredibly strong on the field of play, impeccably polite and humble off it and with their names now written in the annals of the history of their sport.

That they did so on Saturday night without a single score from free kicks is one of those footnotes that will seem bizarre in years to come but indicates just how strong they are in every facet of their play.

There was no talk within the camp of five in a row but there is no doubt it was in their minds just as it was their fans. The steel and guts it took to rescue the first game of this final when having slipped from five up to one down and with only fourteen players on the field two weeks ago was remarkable and was sharpened on the whetstone by that drive for five.

The question over the coming months is whether with that now achieved there can possibly be the same desire, the same single-minded focus to go again.

There were social media memes going around yesterday showing an aged Stephen Cluxtonm nearing 60 but still going strong in search of the 25-in-a-row.

It will not happen like that because this is sport. It’s not the first time that sporting dynasties have changed the nature of a game and created bemoaning and begrudging that they are killing the sport. Manchester United under Alex Ferguson were there. Brazil in the era of Pelé were there. Cork Ladies Footballers and Kilkenny hurlers too, and Kerry through the 1970s and 80’s were peerless in their execution but accused of damaging their sport through their being unbeatable.

Every one of them was beaten though, and so too will Dublin be.

Future

It is unfair in many ways to talk of the future when the celebration of the present is still in full swing but again that is the very nature of sport. Players retire but a team of fifteen still needs to be fielded. Sons become Fathers and Daughters become Mothers, hopefully, imbued with a sense that sport matters and that they can play their part in keeping that so.

Jim Gavin walked the pitch after the game with his players but also with his children. His decision now is a personal one on whether the enormous sacrifice he makes in terms of his time can be made again.

There is no right answer. It can often be the case that the very nature of what we do is the very heart of who we are.

In physical terms, age does not take the inevitable toll on managers as it does on players. Gavin could go another 13 years to match Brian Cody but could he achieve more than he has done now in the eyes of fans and supporters of the GAA?

Over the course of the winter, the players and the management team will celebrate with a nice holiday but then they will be asked to go once more with the lung-bursting sprint, the shuddering shoulder and the laser concentration.

When you are chasing history it is all worthwhile because you are trying to do what no team has ever done before in the sport that is such a vital part of your life.

Now though we will have to find out what the view is like for those who have reached the other side of history.

 

 

Image Credits: Tommy Dickson, Inpho.ie

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