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Monday 24 April 2017

'Donegal performance will count for nothing in All-Ireland decider'

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell celebrates with Glenn O’Reilly after the EirGrid All-Ireland U21FC semi-final victory over Donegal at Kingspan Breffni Park last Saturday. Pic: Sportsfile
Dublin manager Dessie Farrell celebrates with Glenn O’Reilly after the EirGrid All-Ireland U21FC semi-final victory over Donegal at Kingspan Breffni Park last Saturday. Pic: Sportsfile

Partly, Dessie Farrell was chuffed at the jumping of a significant psychological hurdle by his players in Breffni Park last Saturday.

Mostly though, the Dublin Under 21 manager was understandably satisfied with a clinical performance from his players in their All-Ireland semi-final against a Donegal team stacked with players already cutting it at senior level.

Dublin's April 29th clash with a Galway team that sensationally beat a strongly-fancied Kerry last Saturday will be the first time any of his team other than Con O'Callaghan play in an inter-county All-Ireland final.

For all that, Farrell insisted "we didn't talk too much about it," in the build up.

"It was mentioned alright in reference but this was a new day, new dawn type of thing," he explained.

"They worked hard up until this point and they were here on their own merits. Just take it as it comes."

The main body of Farrell's team were part of the Dublin minor side that lost the 2014 All-Ireland minor semi-final to Declan Bonner's team.

Others were involved last year in their defeat to Mayo at the same stage in the Under 21 competition in Tullamore.

"It was a very young team that we had last year," Farrell pointed out.

"This team has a little bit more experience, a bit more mature.

"I think we were probably punching above our weight in some ways. But yeah, that experience just stands to them.

"Through failure, the greatest learning can be.

"And I think that's more on an individual basis as well.

"It's great for them. Because they struggled at this point for a long time. But now they're there.

"Look," he added, "it will count for nothing unless they put in a performance the next day."

Dublin overcame a spate of injury worries to record a seven-point win, though Farrell was optimistic that both Colm Basquel and Shane Clayton would be closer to optimum for the All-Ireland final.

"They've been struggling, to be honest" he admitted.

"They've done very little so it was a big risk playing (Basquel) I think and we're delighted he got through.

"Shane probably wasn't ready for anything more than he got because they've had very little game time or actual field time over the last weeks but also even just in the last week, it's been very limited.

Farrell, who is in his fifth season as Dublin Under 21 manager and has amassed fourth Leinster titles and one All-Ireland crown in that time, admitted that he will lament the Under 21 Championship when it becomes a competition for players under the age of 20 next year.

"I will because I've been very involved with it but at the same time I can see how it makes sense and I was probably one of the supporters of that call at the time as well.

Capable

"I think in my role as the GPA we had suggested that this was probably the way forward because there's so many players nowadays that are capable.

"It's not like years ago where the 21 was a bridge between minor and senior, strength and conditioning wise now players are capable at a younger age of making the senior ranks and there's just such a burden on them of college, club, Under 21, senior then for those that are good enough.

"It's too much to ask of young players and that's why I'd support the concept from a player welfare perspective but without doubt the competition will be a loss.

"It'll be interesting to see what the Under 20 gives us.

"It could give us more of the same and that would be great too."

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