|Dublin hurling boss Anthony Daly celebrates the win over Galway on Sunday.|
Andy Murray sat down in front of the television cameras on Monday morning and made the sort of admission that every sportsman or woman is entitled to make at least once in their life, no matter how good or bad they are.
Speaking just hours after a sensational win over Novak Djokovic quenched a Wimbledon men’s singles thirst for the British nation, Murray had a confession to make to the world.
“I didn’t sleep last night,” he said. “I was afraid to in case I woke up and winning Wimbledon was all a dream.”
Murray’s lack of sleep is entirely understandable in the circumstances, and he wasn’t the only one afraid to close his eyes over an incredible weekend for sport, at home and abroad.
The Irish cyclist Dan Martin, nephew of Stephen Roche, tweeted a similar sentiment before a day he will never forget on Sunday.
Martin wrote on @DanMartin86: “In 1999 I had my 1st experience of letour on the roadside of Val Louron Azet. Today we race almost the same stage. #dreambigkids.”
Born in the English city of Birmingham but proud to be Irish, Martin did indeed dream big on Sunday as he became only the fifth Irishman ever to win a stage of the Tour de France, that honor last going to his famous uncle in 1992.
Others had a similar day. Graeme McDowell has either won or missed the cut in his last eight events as a professional golfer. On Sunday, nine days after missing the cut at the Irish Open, he won again as he lifted the French Open title just outside Paris.
Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice dropped Kieran Donaghy and still managed to orchestrate a Munster football final win over Cork in Killarney.
Warren Gatland had the audacity and the courage to drop Brian O’Driscoll for the final test in Australia on Saturday, but his Lions won the game and the series to vindicate his decision.
The same day the Kilkenny players and their manager put the obituary writers back in a different box, if you’ll excuse the attempt at a pun, with a quite magnificent win over Tipperary in the All-Ireland hurling qualifiers to prove there is life in the old Cats yet, another attempt at a pun!
And then there’s Anthony Daly, the Clare legend who helped his county to a first Munster title in over 60 years as a player back in 1995, a win that sent them on their way to the ultimate success for any hurler, a MacCarthy Cup winner’s medal.
A few years back Daly answered a call to arms from another county and accepted the challenge of turning Dublin’s hurling potential into achievement, a task that had proved beyond many for all the progress made at underage ranks in recent years.
It almost proved beyond Daly as well. Not even a league success two seasons ago looked enough to save him when the 2012 season disappeared without trace and a return trip to the Burren looked inevitable.
Daly admitted late on Sunday night that he himself even thought about ending his time with Dublin last year. But he didn’t. He believed in his players and he believed in the systems Dublin hurling folk had put in place for many, many years.
Faith was everything for Daly in his decision to hang around, and that faith was justified in a provincial final win over Galway on Sunday that was as deserved and as shocking as their victory over Kilkenny in the semifinal replay a week earlier.
After years of merely threatening to go places, Dublin is finally a hurling team actually going places. And the sky may well be their limit as, like Martin and Murray, they dream big when they do close their eyes.
As one commentator wrote on Monday morning, Dublin has now won every competition they have entered on the hurling pitch this season.
They captured the Walsh Cup competition that acts as the season opener for all teams worth their salt in Leinster.
They may have been stuck in Division 1B of the league, but they clinched promotion and beat Limerick, Munster finalists against Cork this Sunday, in the decider.
And now they have beaten the aristocrats from Wexford, Kilkenny and Galway in the Leinster Championship.
They will enter the All-Ireland series for the first time when they take to the semi-final stage in Croke Park next month – they can’t meet Kilkenny or Galway again until the final by the way, such are the rules.
So it’s three down and one to go. Could Dublin fans dare dream of the ultimate prize? After Sunday anything is possible. Just ask Andy Murray or Dan Martin.
(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)
HURLING: There was a great quote from the Tipperary boss Eamon O’Shea in the wake of his team’s defeat to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland qualifiers on Saturday night and the end of their championship summer. Asked about his future and the criticism to come, he simply replied, “Nothing hurts me. I don’t get hurt about criticism. I think my players are outstanding -- that’s what I think. I don’t get hurt by criticism, at the end of my life, that doesn’t bother me. It might have 30 years ago, but as you get older these things just don’t matter.” Well said Eamon, well said.
RACING: What a story from the wonderful Bellewstown race course in Meath where the jockey Danny Mullins picked up a 14-day suspension at Bellewstown on Friday for stealing an ambulance! I kid you not.
Mullins “borrowed” the ambulance after his mount Private Treasure pulled up in the Anglo Printers Novice Hurdle and he needed a lift back to the weighing room so that he had time to weigh out for the following race!
SOCCER: Sad news from Sweden, perhaps, where the referee Martin Hansson has announced his retirement from the professional game. Martin is the man who missed the Thierry Henry handball when Ireland lost to France in the World Cup playoff. He’s also a decent bloke as I discovered at the 2010 finals in South Africa, but I’m not sure if that excuses him for the biggest cock-up ever!
GAA: The Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice is none too happy that some Kingdom legends tweeted details of his Munster final team selection – and the decision to drop Kieran Donaghy – after he had told his players last Tuesday night but before he announced it publicly. Welcome to the modern age Eamonn, an age where nothing is sacred.
RUGBY: Heineken pumps money into rugby so they are well entitled to comment on the stories of the day, as they did last week with an online ad campaign that read : “Irish legends aren’t born, they’re dropped” in the wake of Brian O’Driscoll’s absence from the third Lions test against Australia. Smart move that. I like it.
SOCCER: My colleagues tell me that Richard Dunne is so disillusioned with the contract offers on the table that he may quit professional football altogether after his release from Aston Villa. Surely there’s a club in the MLS prepared to take a chance on one of the best Irish defenders ever?
HURLING: Here’s the best excuse yet for asking for a big game to be postponed – the Down hurlers want their Ulster final date against Antrim next Sunday to be delayed so some of their players can go to a Mumford and Sons concert in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Brilliant.
GAA: Nice touch by the Derry footballers who wore their club jerseys for the warm-up before their All-Ireland qualifier against Down in Celtic Park on Saturday night. It shows a nice bond between club and county, one that others should encourage and copy.
HURLING: Loved the photo of Kilkenny giant Henry Shefflin in a Tipperary shirt after Saturday night’s epic in Nowlan Park. Carlsberg don’t do hurling transfers but if they did ……..
HEROES OF THE WEEK
ANY team that scores 2-25 in a Leinster hurling final deserves to win said Leinster final, and that’s exactly what Dublin did on Sunday as they added Galway to the list of big scalps they have already taken this summer. It’s Dublin first provincial title since 1961, and even their fans will probably admit that Sunday’s drama made the wait worthwhile.
IDIOT OF THE WEEK
AS an Arsenal fan since the Charlie George FA Cup final of 1971, I have long been of the opinion that it is time for Arsene Wenger to move on to another challenge in his great managerial career. His $45cmillion offer for the Liverpool cheat Luis Suarez over the weekend proves it is definitely time for Arsene to leave the building quietly.