Cluxton's perfect kick opened the hearts of a city 3 months ago

Cluxton's perfect kick opened the hearts of a city

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You could call it the point that changed the course of history.

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It's hard to believe it that, given Gaelic football's current state of play, there was a time when a Dublin team with Stephen Cluxton, with James McCarthy, with Cian O'Sullivan and co. could, by the majority of this country, have been considered as underdogs.

These days, those immortal Dubs are the backbone of an unstoppable machine but if you go back to the start of the last decade, back to 2011, it was Kerry who were the favourites to win yet another All-Ireland title.

And sticking to the script, there was no hint of an imminent uprising when, with ten minutes to play Kerry led by four and looked good. Colm 'Gooch' Cooper was scoring for fun in the Drumcondra mist and though Kevin McManamon did what the super-sub does, and scored a rip-roaring goal, the Kingdom were still in front.

Along came Kevin Nolan, the inspired wing back in an unfamiliar land, to score a 65th minute point that will never be forgotten and when Bernard Brogan gave the Dubs the lead shortly after, you could sense the dreams skipping through the capital city.

Like a villain to the piece, Kieran Donaghy came from nowhere with the boomer of all boomers to tie it up and to leave this All-Ireland final poised as the clock ticked into injury time. Another replay? It looked like it until that man McManamon put the head down, the shoulders back and tore deep into Kerry territory. He looked like a man on a mission until Barry John Keane tripped him up and Joe McQuillan had no option but to give the free.

Bernard Brogan knew there was only man for the job, as he beckoned Stephen Cluxton out from the goals and up to the most important free-kick of his life.

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With ice coursing through his veins, the Parnell's club-man nailed it off his trusted left foot to edge this thriller and to send a city into ecstasy.

The stretching of a leg, the sweet spot on a football, that's all it was.

It was one of the closest, most intensely contested All-Ireland final in many a year and in the end, it was all decided by one nerveless individual.

Shortly afterwards, in a gesture of sportsmanship and class, Kerry icon Tomás Ó Sé presented the man of the moment with the football that, moments earlier, had opened the hearts of a county.

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In Dublin, they won't ever forget that September Sunday.

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