GAA: COS THE SAVIOUR PLANNING TO POST GIFTS IN 2003; Dublin Star Will Make Amends
Byline: Paul KEANE Cosgrove had many great moments in 2002, until the championship semi-final (inset)
STRANGE time of year this for Dublin Allstar Ray Cosgrove - he could have sworn Christmas had been and gone.
For him, Christmas arrived in the summer, July 14th to be exact, the day Cosgrove was born in a Dublin jersey.
Dublin proclaimed its status as high king of Leinster for the first time since 1995 and for Cosgrove it felt like all his presents had been opened.
Amazingly, when Dublin were being blown out of the All-Ireland championship at the quarter-final stage in 2001 by Kerry in Thurles, Cosgrove was on holiday, not even on the panel.
In truth he was the unlikeliest of revolutionaries, though his club credentials with Kilmacud Crokes were always widely heralded.
Then, 12 months later he came in from the cold to down Donegal at Croke Park with Wexford, Meath and Kildare already accounted for.
Yet for all the elation of bringing teams to their knees at HQ last summer, Cosgrove admits the abiding memory of his contribution to 2002, for some, will be 'that' free-kick miss against Armagh.
Dublin famously trailed by a point in the All-Ireland semi-final and with the last real chance of the game, a free.
Cosgrove sent his curling, spiralling kick an inch too much to the right, the ball rebounding back off the post.
Heads in hands all around Dublin.
"That kick, yeah, you'll always have a few people talking about it," Cosgrove told SP.
"I suppose, for some anyway, it'll be recognised and remembered more than anything else I did this year.
"I think if it had been the third or the fourth minute I'd have slotted it over, maybe I was a little too negative with it.
"I had no problem kicking it. I mean I grabbed the ball when we won the free and said "that's mine" but for whatever reason it just didn't curl back enough."
Mathematics can never be applied to work out the white heat of championship fare.
But in the strictest terms, the Dublin revolution headed by ace full-forward Cosgrove, was only a couple of scores away from landing a first All-Ireland since 1995.
They lost to Armagh by a point in the semis, Armagh eventually won the championship.
It's not just something to build on though. It's enough to suggest that Cosgrove and company are hot-tips for top honours in 2002.
They're even back in training, a pre-season panel of 26 convening last Monday, two days before Christmas.
"No one team is going to go and dominate for two or three years in a row anymore," continues Cosgrove. …