Diehard Tyrone fans backed their team all the way

Tyrone fans cheer on the Red Hand county on Hill 16 at Croke Park. Picture by Seamus Loughran

TYRONE GAA supporters dared to dream yesterday of a fourth all-Ireland success - but in the end their side was outclassed by a superior team.

Tens of thousands of Red Hand county fans held their breath during the first 16 minutes of yesterday's final in Croke Park in Dublin, as Tyrone raced ahead on points.

After a week in which a special 'Sam-mobile' - a replica of a popemobile that had just toured the streets of Dublin - travelled the county, it seemed that divine intervention was taking place.

But on a perfect sunny day and after intense build-up as to whether Mickey Harte's side could overcome the mighty Dubs, hopes began to fade at half-time as they went seven points down.

Dublin's Cormac Costello holds up the Sam Maguire Cup after yesterday's win over Tyrone in Croke Park. Picture by Seamus Loughran

Despite the upset, the roars became louder as loyal supporters tried to rally their team in the second half of the game as players put in a huge effort.

The dream of championship glory was reignited in the 67th minute by a penalty from Peter Harte - but Dublin were always in control and went on to comfortably win their fourth successive All-Ireland final.

As the whistle blew, tears began to stream as Tyrone players fell to their knees and openly wept.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte with his grandchildren. Picture by Philip Walsh

The devastated army of red and white fans began to leave the stands and make the long journey home, knowing that their dreams of bringing the Sam Maguire were dead.

Gracious in defeat, Mickey Harte bounded over to Dublin manager Jim Gavin to shake his hand and congratulate him on a side who will go down as arguably the greatest Gaelic football team in the history of the game.

Paying tribute to his team, the man who brought Tyrone to all-Ireland success in 2003, 2005 and 2008, said: "the credit that our boys deserve is that they did not allow this to be the battering that it was last year.

"They fought to the bitter end and, even in that comeback, we had chances to close the gap better than we did and we didn't do it. You pay the price against a quality side but I just can't fault the effort that the players put in."

Fans on Hill 16 at Croke Park. Picture by Seamus Loughran

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