Dean Rock followed in his famous dad Barney’s footsteps as he shot Dublin to a National League at Croke Park on Sunday with his very own late, late show.
The Ballymun ace was only introduced for an out of sorts Bernard Brogan with 12 minutes left on the clock against Tyrone but scored two priceless late points to lift the Allianz trophy for Dublin by just one point, 0-18 to 0-17.
The win saw Rock emulate his famous father as a league winner and marked Dublin’s first success in the competition in 20 years.
And it didn’t take new boss Jim Gavin by surprise after he coaxed Rock back into the fold after a difficult time under previous manager Pat Gilroy.
Gavin said, “It was no surprise to me that Dean kicked those scores. I’ve seen him up close with Ballymun Kickhams over the past year in all their 12 games and he’s been one of their lynchpins.
“Obviously, I know from managing the under-21s, I had three years with him, so it was no surprise to me.”
Star man Bryan Cullen believes the league title, a first since 1993, is significant as the 2011 All-Ireland champions look to retain the biggest prize this summer.
“It’s great to get a bit of silverware in the cabinet. It was a great test for the lads there against Tyrone. We know we’re going to have to come through games like that in the summer,” Cullen said.
“So, it was great practice for the lads there today. Tyrone deserve credit as well. We had a feeling at times they’d have a lot of men behind the ball. They do make life very difficult. We were patient, and took our opportunities when they came, which is very pleasing.”
New boss Jim Gavin also came in for praise from Cullen. “Jim has given a lot of lads a new lease of life. Guys that weren’t getting in under previous managements, but he’s managed to reinvent them,” Cullen said.
“He’s getting a lot more out of those guys that have been on the periphery of the panel over the last few years.”
Gavin also claimed that strength in depth was a major factor in Dublin’s favor as they withheld a second half comeback from Tyrone.
“Everybody had their part to play and it was a great team performance. The game ebbed and flowed so many times but our guys showed great heart and great resolve,” Gavin said.
“There is a character in the team, I knew it was there, and it is good to see it come out in the closing stages.”
Veteran defender Conor Gormley was encouraged by Tyrone’s performance and the ability of their young players to push Dublin to the limit in defeat.
Despite being ranked as outsiders for the league crown, Tyrone only lost by a point after a spirited second half.
“Boys have come in, new to the whole set-up and they’ve really pushed the thing on. They’ve really livened the thing up the last couple of weeks there,” Gormley said.
“They’ve given new life to Tyrone and I think there’s a summer to look forward to for Tyrone supporters.”
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte confirmed that the pre-match injury to Stephen O’Neill was freakish after he went over on his ankle in the warm-up area under the stands at Croke Park.
“He was very unfortunate. Stephen was just doing the warm-up and accidentally stepped back on top of a football and went over on his ankle,” Harte said.
Harte expects O’Neill to recover in time for the Ulster Senior Football Championship clash against Donegal on May 26.