TO WIN ONE All-Ireland football championship is fantastic, but pick up two in three years and it’s going to take some time to sink in.
It’s understandable then why Dublin’s Cian O’Sullivan struggles to compare and contrast their win in 2011 with last month.
“They were two amazing victories and we’re just enjoying them as much as we can and there was a bit more of a fuss made in 2011 because it had been so long but other than that no.”
The hard work, the long days; none of that changed between 2011 and now either.
“I suppose in 2011 we kind of put a shield around ourselves and tried to keep it within the team and did likewise this year so there is a real sense of achievement within the team just like 2011.
“It’s not until after the game that you realise just how much it means to everyone else your family and friends and fans so, I suppose, it was very sweet getting the second one after it being so long in 2011.
“There was still the same sense of satisfaction and the amount of work you put in all year is incredible and to have it payoff is just a sense of achievement.”
The Kilmacud Crokes man also feels that having the experience of being there and doing that was one of the reasons they overcame Mayo on the day.
“From a logistical point of view there’s a lot of things you need to get out of the way in the run up to the game — tickets, organising the banquet and all those kind of things — they can be a bit of a distraction for guys.
“So we knew all that from 2011 and we had learned a few lessons and definitely that stood to us.
“Then the other thing is there is a lot being said in the media and social media is such a big thing these days and knowing from 2011 to keep your head out of that and shut it off and delete the apps on your phone or whatever it took and to keep the focus and keep the head straight and definitely we brought those things from what we learned in 2011.”
One of the sweeter aspects of another summer of Sam was silencing pundits who were critical of the Dublin midfield, regarding it as the Blues’ weak-link.
“We struggled against Meath and they got a foothold around the middle and we focused on that going into the quarter final.
“It is such a key area of the pitch and is where possession is won and it is something we focused on after that game and I think we got on top of it from there on in and there was a great sense of satisfaction.
“It’s not just the two midfielders these days it is almost eight with the the half backs and half forwards as well but we were happy with how it went.”
Stephen Cluxton’s leadership
O’Sullivan is also quick to heap praise on Dubs captain Stephen Cluxton whose kick outs played such a pivotal role in their championship bid.
“It is such a crucial part of the game to retain possession. We have the kick out and our mentality is it’s our ball and when you have someone like Clucko in goals who can kick so accurately it is a great comfort to have.
“I think he really showed on All-Ireland final day that he could pick out some great passes and he can get the flight of the ball perfect so that guys were running onto the ball.”
Cluxton also proved to be a great inspiration as captain:
“He’s talented, he’s such a hard worker and he leads by example. He’s always been a vocal person within the team. He’s one of those guys that when he starts talking in the dressing-room, everyone just shuts up and listens.
“That came a bit more to the fore this year, given he was captain. But he has always been like that.”
And as for Dublin’s ambition, O’Sullivan says that while the players are too busy celebrating to think about dynasty building, they do believe they have more titles in them.
“I suppose it has kind of been bandied around over the last week or two. But I’d say lads are just trying to celebrate and enjoy the week.
“There is no reason why this team can’t go on and compete for an All-Ireland next year or in the next few years to come. We have some great talent in the team at the moment and there are some other fantastic guys coming through the ranks, like Shane Carthy and Cormac Costello.
“They’re both only 19 and fantastic players and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of them and others in years to come.”
Cian O’Sullivan appeared at the launch of the SKINS GAA School where young GAA players from across the country, between the ages of 13 and 18 years of age, can enter a competition to win a trip to Johnstown House, Co Meath for a day of high quality coaching. For more details, go here
Additional reporting Fintan O’Toole.