Huge crowd welcome All-Ireland winners

An estimated 35,000 people thronged Merrion Square last night for the official homecoming to honour Dublin's first All-Ireland SFC title success since 1995.

The streets of the capital were turned into a sea of blue with thousands of schoolchildren present for the event to salute their heroes.

A special stage was erected for the event with Sam Maguire paraded onstage by Dublin captain Bryan Cullen and manager Pat Gilroy shortly before 7.30pm, each with one hand on the most famous trophy in Irish sport.

Gilroy proclaimed that “homework is off” for tomorrow, while Ger Brennan recalled the closing stages of Sunday's dramatic contest.

"I felt very worried because he (Stephen Cluxton) is a bad kicker to be honest," the St Vincents defender joked. "I thought someone else should have taken it."

Just before the arrival of 'Sam' the rest of the players were introduced to the crowd by RTÉ's Des Cahill who acted as MC for the event.

Birthday boy and Man of the Match Kevin Nolan was treated to a chorus of 'Happy Birthday' from the players, management and supporters.

The Kilmacud Crokes clubman was full of praise for the thousands who had come out to celebrate with the players.

"Thanks to you all for coming out," he said. "The players really appreciate it. I hope you finish off the night with a bang like we will, so just have a good night."

There was plenty of musical entertainment from both members of the squad and management.

Goal-scorer Kevin Mcmanamon treated the thousands present to his own rendition of Damien Dempsey's 'Sing All Our Cares Away', while David Henry sang 'Molly Malone'.

Stats man Ray Boyne led the chorus of 'Dublin in the Rare Oul Times' while former All-Ireland winner David Hickey, who was part of the Metropolitans side which beat Kerry in the 1976 decider brought a close to proceedings with 'The Auld Triangle'.

Earlier Dublin GAA Chairman Andy Kettle proclaimed: "I am full of emotion at the moment, 16 years is a long time and there’s a generation of Dublin footballers and supporters who have grown up without seeing Sam Maguire in Dublin."

Dublin Lord Mayor Cllr Andrew Montague, on behalf of the four mayors of Dublin paid special tribute to Pat Gilroy.

"I want to say a few words about a special man who took on the job of running the Dublin team two years ago," he said.

"This man works hard, knows what he is doing, is dedicated and believes his job is a privilege. But can I say to Pat Gilroy that the privilege is ours."

Later, a couple of thousand Dublin supporters gathered in Skerries, the hometown of Dublin captain Bryan Cullen to celebrate with their heroes.

The players with the Sam Maguire cup in tow were paraded through the streets of the coastal town on an open-top bus, before gathering for an open-air event at the Skerries Harps GAA Club.

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