Thousands turn out for Dubs' 'homecoming' in Merrion Square

Dublin fans turned out in force tonight to salute Jim Gavin, Stephen Cluxton and the 2013 All-Ireland winning panel at the 'homecoming' event in Merrion Square.

Thousands thronged the capital's streets and made it a sea of blue near Government buildings to cheer on the Dublin players who beat Mayo by a point in yesterday's final to regain the Sam Maguire Cup they also won in 2011.

A crowd of 50,000 people attended a similar celebration for the victorious Dubs two years ago. The figure for tonight's homecoming reached an estimated 35,000 according to Dublin City Council.

RTÉ 'Sunday Game' host Des Cahill was the MC for the proceedings which got underway at 7pm, with singer Ryan Sheridan keeping the crowd, a real mix of families, hardcore fans and newcomers to the game, entertained beforehand.

Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn, who hosted the event along with the city council, was present on the stage along with Dublin County Board Chairman Andy Kettle, before manager Gavin and captain Cluxton carried the Sam Maguire out to thunderous applause and cheers.

Gavin took to the mic to praise his players: "They work on the skills of the game day in and day out. They are so diligent in how they apply themselves and they listen to the coaches in training.

"They make such a big effort to play for Dublin and it's a real pleasure to work with them."

Thanking the fans, the Rounds Towers clubman said: "It's one thing to win, but it's another thing to say thanks for the great support we have in Dublin.

"There are a lot of people here tonight that probably didn't get a ticket for yesterday's game. It's a chance for them to see the players close up and personal and to see the cup as well."

Bernard Brogan, the Dubs' two-goal hero against Mayo, added: "It is great to see the numbers out here tonight. I know it's not easy to get in with the traffic (around town). Please God this is the first of a few more (All-Irelands) with this team."

There was plenty of banter between Cahill and the players on stage and it inevitably developed into a few singsongs, including 'The Auld Triangle' and 'Come On Your Boys In Blue'.

One of the highlights or lowlights - depending on your musical persuasion - was Kevin McManamon's rendition of the Killers' song, 'All These Things That I've Done', with guitar backing from his younger brother Sean.

Dean Rock, who was brought on as a substitute in the final like McManamon, belted out 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough', much to the crowd's delight, while a jubilant Eoghan O'Gara had fellow forward Paddy Andrews spinning around on his shoulders at one point.

Ciaran Kilkenny and Michael Darragh Macauley actually missed the first day of their college terms today as they continued to celebrate with their Dublin team-mates, and midfielder Macauley sheepishly admitted on stage: "I'll be in tomorrow."

Following the conclusion of the homecoming event, the players and management boarded an open top bus bound for Parnells GAA Club in Coolock, the home club of Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton.

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