Cian O'Sullivan: 'We've let ourselves down on a number of occasions'
A year ago, Dublin turned Cork’s 10-point lead to dust and accelerated into a league final wherein Derry were pinched and pummelled until their heads spun.
Dublin danced towards summer and think tanks were immediately established on air, in print and online as to how they might be beaten.
Same position but with markedly less applause ringing in their ears.
“It is great to get to another league final. But given the choice, you’d prefer to be getting better performances than scraping victories in the league,” Cian O’Sullivan points out.
“And our performance wasn’t up to par on Sunday. So it’s a funny situation. On the one hand, you’re delighted to be in a league final, but at the same time you didn’t get the performance you were looking for.
“It’s a funny kind of experience in the dressing-room after.
“We wouldn’t set out at the start of the year and put a League title as our primary aim,” continues the Kilmacud Crokes man.
“It’s more just a by-product of getting strong performances.
“I think in the last couple of years in the league, that’s what we focused on and a league title has been the result.
“That’s not saying it’s not a fantastic achievement…it is.
“And to get three-in-a-row would be great. But the primary focus for us is in performance and making sure the team is in as good shape as possible come summer.”
You could argue, with some justification, that winning this year’s league should have been so low on Jim Gavin’s list of ‘To dos in 2015’ as to be practically illegible.
But relegation wouldn’t have gone down too well either and once that was avoided, as O’Sullivan points out, Dublin were a decent bet to make a spring semi.
“Wind back a couple of weeks ago and it didn’t look too likely that we would get into the play-offs and that’s the funny thing about the league,” he recalls.
“There can just be one
result between making the play-off or getting relegated.
“So I suppose we finished strong in our last couple of games and we scraped by against Monaghan and now we’re into a final but at the same time, we have experimented.
“We brought a couple of new faces into the team.
“They’ve slotted in well.
“They’ve gotten good
experience over the past six or seven games, which is exactly what you want to do.”
O’Sullivan attributes Sunday’s performance against Monaghan – one which Gavin expressed some dissatisfaction within his media conference afterwards – to “a lack of concentration”.
“There was a lot of passing errors and handling errors and we let ourselves down in a number of areas on a number of occasions.
“It was just one of those days really. We’ll definitely be looking at it to try and address why exactly that was the case.
“It’s one of those things in sport. It happens sometimes and it just spreads throughout the team.”
O’Sullivan is nonplussed that his team’s last three performances in Croke Park have been decidedly sub par.
“It’s not something we’d read into.
“I don’t think you can blame the ground you play in as a reason for playing well or not playing well.
“It’s just moreso the games themselves. I think Monaghan played far better this week than they did the week before.
“That’s why the scoreline was so different.”
Last week was also Alan Brogan’s first experience of an inter-county training session since last August and predictably, O’Sullivan is enthused by his rearrival.
“We were all hoping that he’d come back. He’s a fantastic player and a great lad to have around the team, a great presence to have in the dressing-room.
“It wasn’t something we were constantly talking about all year.
“But I would have been surprised, given he left it open-ended after Christmas, I would have been surprised if we got to summer and he said he was going to hang up his boots.”
O’Sullivan concludes: “Good to have him back in the fold, back in the mix and looking forward to playing alongside him again.”