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Dublin see off farney storm in dying minutes

Farrell pleased as Dubs avoid first defeat of season after extraordinary comeback

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GREAT TACKLE: Dublin’s Brian Fenton is robbed by Monaghan’s Karl O’Connell during their Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 3 match at Croke Park on Saturday. Pic: Sportsfile.

GREAT TACKLE: Dublin’s Brian Fenton is robbed by Monaghan’s Karl O’Connell during their Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 3 match at Croke Park on Saturday. Pic: Sportsfile.

SPORTSFILE

GREAT TACKLE: Dublin’s Brian Fenton is robbed by Monaghan’s Karl O’Connell during their Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 3 match at Croke Park on Saturday. Pic: Sportsfile.

The thing about Dessie Farrell is he's not really a glass half-full or a glass half-empty kind of a fella.

The analytical side of Farrell is such that he would be much more inclined to ask why exactly that volume of liquid was contained in the glass in the first place.

He'd then examine whether there's anything that can be done to maximise liquid levels.

And probably question whether a glass is the optimum receptacle for the purposes of liquid containment to begin with.

So on Saturday night, he came before us and showed no traceable signs of relief or annoyance or satisfaction or anger, all acceptable responses to the madcap game we had just witnessed and Dublin's part in it.

The brass tacks was they protected an unbeaten start to his reign at a time when potentially, Dublin were viewed as being potentially vulnerable to the odd defeat.

And in coming back to draw it in the 80th minute, his team displayed all the traits Farrell's espouses; heart, passion, pride, determination.

But you could make out in how he spoke on Saturday night that the question Farrell was pondering was how they ended up in that situation in the first place.

Intensity

To recap.

Monaghan led by nine points in the 60th minute. And they were still ahead by six in the 70th minute.

"At a superficial level, it seemed that we lacked the intensity that was required, slow out of the traps," Farrell offered by way of immediate explanation for a half of football wherein Dublin scored three points, trailed at half-time by nine and probably deserved to be further behind.

"They were going at it hard, and we struggled to compete basically. They overran us, and they were up for it and wanted it more. That showed on the scoreboard at half-time."

That was the moment we went scrambling for context.

When had Dublin last been beaten by such a score?

Defeats were few and far between under Gavin and Pat Gilroy. Hidings were an altogether rarer occurrence.

Answer: In 2012, they lost by 12 points to Mayo in a League match in Castlebar.

We had a benchmark.

All we were really waiting for was confirmation that this defeat was worse or slightly better that the second half would bring.

How could any other outcome plausibly transpire?

Dublin were heavy-legged in the first half. They couldn't work the ball into those comfortable scoring spaces they tend only to shoot from.

They left their 'D' criminally under-protected.

And vitally, they never got close to creating something that might be recognisable as a goal chance.

The most obvious explanation seemed to be that they had trained more heavily this week than Monaghan.

Or that after two big, gruelling games against Kerry and Mayo so soon after resuming training, their heavy-lifters were showing signs of early-season fatigue.

"I actually thought that we prepared quite well this week," shrugged Farrell.

"That's the nature of it. It's not an exact science. Sometimes you think you're well up for it and you can come out and the performance can be flat."

In these post-match manager press briefings, the most frequently-asked question is: what did you say at half-time?

Here it was unavoidable.

"Obviously they're an experienced bunch at this stage," Farrell noted.

Cameo

"They obviously weren't happy with it themselves. We were happy to have the opportunity at half-time to get in and regroup and to rectify some of the stuff that was going wrong for us, because there was a lot of it.

"But ultimately, it sort of culminated in the lack of intensity that we displayed in that first half.

"We just asked them to go out and be competitive in the second half and have a go and see what happens."

They had luck.

Kevin McManamon's goal came indirectly from a short-dropping shot he himself had taken.

But Farrell also got 1-4 from his bench, with Seán Bugler scoring 0-3 and providing the assist for the goal in a noteworthy cameo, likely to be rewarded with more substantial game time, particularly now that his Sigerson involvement has ended.

Farrell meanwhile, wasn't shy about admitting that equalising point through Davy Byrne felt significant on a personal level.

"Yeah, it was. I think it was important to us in terms of where we were at on our particular journey. It says a lot about the players.

"And how they responded was really important. It was great to see that drive and determination."