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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Farrell rues slow dubs start

All-Ireland u21 semi-final: Mayo 1-15 Dublin 1-14

Mayo’s Liam Irwin, consoles Dublin goalkeeper Lorcan Molloy after the final whistle in the Eirgrid All-Ireland U21 Football Championship semifinal in O’Connor Park, Tullamore, Offaly. Photo: Sportsfile
Mayo’s Liam Irwin, consoles Dublin goalkeeper Lorcan Molloy after the final whistle in the Eirgrid All-Ireland U21 Football Championship semifinal in O’Connor Park, Tullamore, Offaly. Photo: Sportsfile

It was hard to tell which was the deeper disappointment for Dublin U21s boss Dessie Farrell.

The fact that his team had contrived to give Mayo and early seven-point lead in Tullamore on Saturday or that they hadn't managed to hold on to their own advantage having creatively obliterated that deficit in quick smart time?

Mostly though, he was just dejected at losing an All-Ireland U21 FC semi-final they could very clearly have won.

"You'd be disappointed, getting yourself back into it as we did and then going ahead and not finishing it off," Farrell surmised after watching his Dublin team repeat their Leinster final trick of whittling a seven-point arrears but then fail to get over the line.

"I think," he continued, "we just ran out of steam and ran out of a few ideas in the last few minutes.

"They obviously had a little bit left in the tank and they were able to pick us off there.

"But look, it's a results business. That's the nature of it."

That result, with 10 minutes to go, looked decidedly like being a Dublin win, given that they led at that moment by four points.

Lethargic

Given that they trailed by seven after 24 minutes, having not managed to score from play until close to the half-time whistle, it took some doing.

Mayo forward Conor Loftus held his nerve to kick the winning free in the fourth minute of injury-time as Mayo outscored Dublin 0-6 to 0-1 down the final gallop.

"I think that breeze was a little harder to deal with that we were giving in credit for," Farrell added, attempting to make sense of his team's glacially slow beginning.

"We were just slow and lethargic. We just looked out on our feet early.

"There was none of the coming off the shoulder and opening them up - that wasn't happening at all.

"It started happening in the second half. We sort of threw the shackles off a bit and went for it. But I don't know why we didn't do it in the first half.

"It was never our intention to be conservative. But they just looked flat for some reason and they didn't have the energy. We set ourselves a huge mountain to climb."

Indeed.

At one stage in the first half, it looked as though Dublin might be hammered.

Mayo's tackling was aggressive in just the right way and they moved the ball with much greater purpose and very clear intent and when Diarmuid O'Connor skilfully flicked a pass from Liam Irwin past Lorcan Molloy for their goal, it was hard to see anything other than a straight forward passage to the final.

O'Connor's influence on the result was huge.

He kicked 1-1, carried the ball bravely and skilfully and in the second half.

When referee Niall Cullen bizarrely awarded a free against the Young Footballer of the Year for over-carrying, when he had clearly been fouled himself amid howls of disapproval for the Mayo support, O'Connor and the rest of the Mayo attackers appeared to become protected species thereafter.

That doesn't take away from the fact that Mayo accelerated to the finish whereas Dublin's energy faded a shade.

With just six points between the teams at half-time, Dublin looked flattered but they kicked 1-7 in the first 12 minutes of the second-half.

Inevitably, Con O'Callaghan lit the fuse but in a spell when it looked as though Dublin couldn't miss, Colm Basquel and Mick Deegan both kicked a couple of gems.

Mayo, so composed and sturdy in the first half, were making mistakes they hadn't before and were hemmed in on their own kick-out and against a pretty rigid wind, they looked like a team playing in quicksand.

Shock

"We were expecting them to come at us very hard at the start of the second-half and that's what transpired," admitted their manager, Michael Solan.

"Look, it's no shock to us. It still takes an awful lot of work on the field from the lads to be able to turn that stuff around."

Irwin kicked three frees in their late renaissance but it was Loftus who had the trickiest kick of all.

With the sides level, Dublin won a hopped ball inside their own '45 but lost possession and inevitably, O'Connor took control and galloped once more towards goal.

Tom Lahiff made the contact and with time just up, Loftus kicked the toughest free of the day under the most acute pressure.

"You'd just be annoyed how . . . obviously late in a tight game like that, those last couple of plays are under the spotlight more than anything else," Farrell conceded.

"A mistake in the last minute is very different to a mistake in the first minute.

"But we just...we turned over some ball that we shouldn't have.

"Even the throw ball - we won. But instead of winning a free, we coughed it up and that was the difference.

"The lads will be disappointed," he concluded, "having got to where they got to and then to cough it up at the end."

SCORERS - Mayo: C Loftus (4f), L Irwin (3f) 0-4 each, D O'Connor 1-1, F Boland 0-2, S Akram, M Ruane, S Coen, F Duffy 0-1 each. Dublin: C O'Callaghan 1-5 (3f), M Deegan, C Basquel 0-3 each, P Small (f), E Murchan, G O'Reilly 0-1 each.

MAYO: M Flanagan; E O'Donoghue, S Cunniffe, D Kenny; M Plunkett, M Hall, S Akram; M Ruane, S Coen; F Boland, C Loftus, D O'Connor; L Irwin, F Duffy, B Reape. Subs: E Doran for Cunniffe (h-t), J Carr for Duffy (47), J Kelly for Plunkett (52).

DUBLIN: L Molloy; S McMahon, E Smith, S Clayton; C O'Shea, M Cahilan, B Howard; K Deeley, A Foley; T Lahiff, C Basquel, G O'Reilly; P Small, C O'Callaghan, M Deegan. Subs: E Murchan for Cahilan (25), D Spillane for Small (43), K Doherty for Deeley (46), A Elliott for O'Reilly (56), D Monaghan for Smith (60).

WIDES - Mayo: 8 (4 + 4).

Dublin: 6 (4 + 2).

BOOKED - Mayo: 2 (O'Connor 49, Ruane 53). Dublin: 1 (O'Reilly 35).

ATTENDANCE: 3,500 (est.)

REF: N Cullen (Fermanagh)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Diarmuid O'Connor (Mayo)

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