Saturday 18 November 2017

Dessie's delight with Dubs final fling

Dublin U21s prove bigger is not always better in historic All-Ireland decider triumph

Dublin's joint-captains Con O'Callaghan and Cillian O'Shea lift the Clarke Cup
Dublin's joint-captains Con O'Callaghan and Cillian O'Shea lift the Clarke Cup

Dessie Farrell smiled and delivered the line that succinctly summed up his latest and, if his own words are to be believed, last managerial triumph with Dublin.

"They're probably not the most talented team ever to put on a blue jersey," he said of his newly-benighted All-Ireland under-21 champions in Tullamore on Saturday evening.

Rather than a put-down, it was the intro for a compliment.

"And they won't mind me saying that," he clarified.

"But without a shadow of a doubt they're the hardest working bunch that I've ever been involved with."

This, you could believe.

"I think we worked hard in creating the culture around them this year that they could thrive and prosper as players and as people as well, which is important to us.

"They embraced that with open arms. They were phenomenal."

By any measure, Farrell had avoided straying into exaggeration with his gushing assessment.

To summarise.

His team breezed through Leinster but then, that's the least expected of Dublin football teams these days and the province's most threatening opponents, Kildare, never got as far as the expected semi-final in which the two were billed to meet.

They won their three matches therein by 14, seven and 12 points respectively.


Of greater relevance to Farrell's 'phenomenal' claim was that semi-final deconstruction of Donegal, a team packing serious senior heat and playing a style designed to push teams like Dublin to the brink of destraction and beyond.

Dublin won that one by seven points pulling up.

Yet any judgement of a team's standing is heavily influenced by their performance in finals and it was in Tullamore on Saturday against a Galway side riding the huge confidence wave of having ousted that Kerry team and roughly a stone heavier per man that Dublin sealed their legacy.

They won by six and endured a couple of hectic spells late on but mostly, thought and probed their way to All-Ireland glory, Dublin's fifth in what was the competition's final staging before its regrade to an U20 tournament.

"We're not the biggest team," Farrell noted, with some understatement.

"But we worked really hard and thankfully we've a fair bit of pace in the team, which helped.

"Ultimately there are certain innate characteristics that you need to give yourself the chance to move on and they may not have some of the traits but to me they have the most important one and that's plenty of heart, character and backbone.

"You're not going anywhere without that."

It helps too, to have a 'bolter'.

Darren Gavin wasn't discussed in too many conversations last week about the winning and losing of this All-Ireland U21 final but the Lucan Sarsfields midfielder won the official TG4 Man of the Match award for a busy, positive performance after his first half introduction for the injured Andy Foley.

For our money, Brian Howard had a more sustained, calming influence on Dublin's win but either way, it was an area of immense strength in a section of the pitch where they were expected to struggle.

Helpfully, Evan Comerford's kick-outs were sympathetic to their intended receivers all through and mostly, Dublin just carried the ball with much more finesse, supported by more zealous runners, covering more intelligent lines.

"A good start was always going to be important," Farrell noted, though he couldn't have dreamt the beginning to the second-half his team enjoyed.

"And then the match-ups; minimising, as best we could, their main men."

Like that Donegal semi-final, Glenn O'Reilly started like a high-speed train and kicked three long range points.

Most unlike that match, Colm Basquel played a key creative role, playing ambitious, visionary crossfield passes to both Aaron Byrne for his goal and Dan O'Brien for the move that led to Dublin's injury-time penalty.

"We don't do things too easy, of course," Farrell admitted, referring to that late Galway upswing when they came within the width of a post to bringing it back to just a point.

"It was nervy enough stuff. But I think the burst just after half-time saw us through.

"For me, I think they deserved it."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News