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'The Place Erupted — I Was Hugging Strangers Like They Were Family'

By seank

August 4, 2017 at 1:20pm

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Dublin might just have the best football fans in the whole of Ireland.

But why do the Boys In Blue attract such dedicated supporters? What drives them?

We spoke to Éanna Boland, vice-captain of the St Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh senior hurlers on the Navan Road who's got a real passion for football. Éanna told us what supporting the Dubs means to him...

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First football game or memory?

My first real memory was in '95 when we won the All-Ireland. As a five-year-old I wasn't lucky or worthy enough to secure a ticket, but I remember my parents going to this huge event. The whole road was covered in bunting and flags hanging from every window and there was huge excitement. When I was old enough to go to games I remember the drive back from the country to get there. As children we used to spend every summer in Tipperary. I can still remember my mother packing all four of us up and heading back to Dublin for the day to watch them play. Before the motorway we'd have to pass through every town and village en route. Once we were playing Kildare and we came back that night to find the neighbours had hung a white bed sheet in our garden.

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Best Dublin football memory?

Somehow I managed to get a last-minute Hill ticket to the 2011 All-Ireland. I ended up in there on my own and and was right in line with Cluxton's last-minute free. The place erupted — I was hugging strangers like they were family.

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Do you have any match day rituals?

Luckily, I live very close to Croke Park. On match day some friends and family will call over for a BBQ and we'll walk down to the game together.

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How is it a part of your life — taking up weekends, spending money, travelling, missing work, missing family occasions?

It's pretty all-consuming all right. Between playing myself and following Dublin your weekends are always busy. Both sides of the family are huge Dublin fans so we try to prevent clashes. When it comes to my own games clashing though, I'd have to play myself even if it was an All-Ireland Final. My team would miss me a lot more than Jim Gavin and the lads.

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What does being a Dublin football fan mean to you?

It's funny, we're incredibly privileged at the moment. I know the rest of the country are looking for Dublin to split into two counties, but for a long time we weren't that good. I'm going to enjoy the current success for all it's worth because you never know how long it'll last.

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What's the furthest length you've gone to get a ticket?

Thankfully, I haven't had to go to too many extremes. I try to cast the net as wide as possible in the hope something comes up. It's working so far, so fingers crossed.

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Is there a message you'd like us to pass on to the team?

Wishing them the best of luck in the next few weeks. Hopefully we get over Monaghan this weekend and go on to win the All-Ireland.

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