“Look, there was a lot of hurt over last year. A lot of stuff said about us. A lot of people questioned our character. A lot of slurry thrown at us, I thought. People calling us cowards and chokers and bottlers.
“There’s a lot of men in there with a lot of medals. As much as you try and block it out, it still creeps through and you hear it. It annoyed me. And it annoyed a lot of men in that changing room. But I think we gave the answer in the last couple of weeks.”
Philly McMahon paid tribute to the inspiration of those close to the Dublin set-up who passed away over the last 12 months.
“We had (supporters) the Harris brothers that passed away, we had (former selector) Davy Billings, we had (county chairman) Andy Kettle, we had the young people in Berkeley. Those people make you cherish what you have. When you see unfortunate things happening like that, it makes you love getting out onto Croke Park and just living life, I suppose.”
Bernard Brogan revealed his father, namesake and three-time All-Ireland winner, had been sick this past week. “The knees of a footballer back in the 70s, his legs have been blown up and he was struggling during the week. Like always, he just wished us well. That gave us a lot of solace, looking at him and the battles he’s gone through during the week. He was in and out of hospital with joint pain and stuff like that.
“I’m delighted that he could make it in today because I was worried during the week that he’d have to stay in hospital but I’m just delighted he got out because he’d be going mad if he couldn’t make the big day.”
Meanwhile, social media was awash with criticism of McMahon after footage was shown of him making contact with Kieran Donaghy’s face.