Dublin attacker Ciaran Kilkenny underlined the “relief” in the All-Ireland champions’ camp after Saturday’s victory.
“It’s the most special feeling I’ve ever felt in my whole life, I’m so emotional. We did it!
“Such relief, after the first game, such a titanic battle - we have such respect for this Kerry team, and to get over the line means so much to this group. Grown men out there in tears - we’re so proud of each other, of our families, of this county.
“What can I say? I’m delighted. I suppose we can just go and party.”
His colleague in defence, Philly McMahon, drilled a little deeper, though he echoed Kilkenny’s reference to relief: “It’s kind of a weight off your shoulders. There’s been a lot of information seeping into us all year but it’s gone now, it’s done. Relief is the big word, it’s what I feel now at the minute.
“It didn’t seep in (five in a row talk) because people talk about making history and I think a lot of lads on this team have had a huge amount of achievements in their lives and careers as well, so this is just another notch in history for a lot of them.
“For me, I’m very fortunate that I’ve now got a lot of medals in my back pocket, and I’m thankful for everybody that was a part of it.”
McMahon came on as a sub and didn’t want the game to end, he revealed: “I only got a certain amount of time so I wanted to keep playing, to be honest. It felt tighter than the scoreline said, it felt like one of the tightest All-Irelands I’ve played in, because obviously the scoreline didn’t really reflect that.
“There’s no doubt that Kerry team will be knocking at the door the next couple of seasons. They asked a lot of questions of us and we had to really respect them and do our homework and do our diligence on them.
“The first day proved they got a lot right and they challenged us in certain areas. Hopefully today we rectified some of that, some we didn’t but it got us over the line.
“Some lads would do their own individual analysis and then we’d do our collective analysis. It wouldn’t be any different time-wise but we had to narrow in and focus on the most important things.”
The draw two weeks ago interfered with McMahon’s social life: “I had my stag (planned) so I got a double-whammy!
“When you think about it, this season has been shortened already so we would normally be only playing an All-Ireland now anyway, so it didn’t make a difference for me or the lads.
“We’ve been here, we’ve done it, been in a replay, so that experience helped us.”
Was the stag rescheduled?
“It is, thankfully for my mates. They had to fork out a few extra quid and it’s going to be next week. It fell nicely. If we drew again, I don’t know what I would have done because the lads… I would have very few friends (left) because they would definitely have headed off and left me on my own.
“We’re going to Spain, that’s all I’ll say.”
Will McMahon be back next year?
“I don’t know, that’s up to the management.
“For me I had two season where I had a lot of added stress outside of sport. This year, even though I didn’t play much, I felt great in that I was moving well in training and my head was in a good place whereas it wasn’t the previous two years.
“Who knows? If the management needs your services and you think you can do it again, you go again. I'm sure there will be a few changes.”
Five in a row, though. History. How does it feel?
“You just respect that. Sometimes people come up to you and say ‘five-in-a-row’ and you think ‘is that a question? Or how do I respond to that?’.
“We couldn’t be thinking that far ahead when five-in-a-row was said to us because it would have distracted us and we wouldn’t have gotten over the line.”