Published Sunday, 23 September 2012
As the capital city caved in to the invasion from western and north western Ireland, it soon became awash with the green and gold of Donegal and red and green of Mayo.
The luring tomes of the broad Mayo and Donegal accents, the funny stories, the pints, the ceol agus craic, and plenty of football talk were warming us all up for what promised to be a final with a difference.
This occasion had an unfamiliar feel to it, and in fairness something I hadn't experienced since 2002 and 2003, when Tyrone and Armagh made their breakthroughs.
As I entered the Davin stand to take my place among the some 82,000 lucky spectators, I realised that we were about to witness something truly special.
It was 20 long years since Donegal took Sam to the hills. The stakes couldn't have been higher, with so much to lose yet so much to gain, for two counties ravenous to get their hands on 'Sam'.
Mayo played the role of the gallant loser but in fairness they were only ever that, as Jimmy McGuinness's machine rolled into Croke Park on a mission.
The two early goals from Mcfadden and Murphy set the tone but for me the performances of the two Magee bothers in the Donegal Full Back line were immense.
Michael Conroy is the one forward on the Mayo team who can show for and win ball all day long. Neil Magee gave him only one kick of the ball in the whole game, and that was a fluke moment of generosity.
Donegal were never totally at their vintage best but in reality they didn't need to be. As Ryan Bradley and Mark McHugh sat off to protect the defence on every single play, it took some extremely over fussy officiating from Maurice Deegan to keep the westerners in the game.
Although it never properly reflected one the score-line there was a massive gap in class between the two teams.
I was absolutely delighted to see Michael Murphy utilised close to goal and as many of us pondered about what might happen if McFadden didn't perform to his very best, the big 22-year-old from Glenswilly relieved all our fears by producing his best performance in two years.
Donegal have given Ulster football the kiss of life, and just as big Mick Murphy said in his brilliant acceptance speech: it was all because 'Jimmy's winning matches!'