Tuesday 22 January 2019

farrell respects 'formidable' Tipp

Dublin U21s manager knows Premier men will present a massive test in All-Ireland semi

Dublin will hope to qualify for their fourth All-Ireland Under 21 Football Championship Final in six years when they come face-to-face with Munster champions Tipperary in O'Connor Park, Tullamore next Saturday afternoon (4.0).

Dublin's impressive record of three wins since 2010 belies a rather more ordinary strike rate prior to that but The Premier County will present the Dubs with a huge challenge if Dublin are to realise their ambitions of making the final and then defending their title.

That Dublin enter the contest as raging hot favourites fails to recognise the impressive nature of Tipperary's Munster Final win over Cork five days ago and Dublin manager Dessie Farrell concedes that his team will need to produce an improved showing if a positive result is to be achieved at the weekend.

"I watched Tipperary last week and their performance in the final was excellent," said Farrell.

"I don't think that the final score (1-15 to 3-8) reflected how well they played on the night and that was against a Cork team that already had beaten Kerry.

"They are a formidable opponent and I don't think anybody is under any illusions as to the difficulty of the challenge that lies ahead for us at the weekend.

"We certainly won't be underestimating them but it's a match that everyone in the panel is really looking forward to," added the Na Fianna clubman.

Far from building the opponent up for psychological reasons, there seems a genuine respect and admiration from Farrell for what Tipperary have achieved at underage level in recent years, given the traditional emphasis placed on hurling within the county.

Of course, Farrell suffered as the hands of the Munstermen in that memorable All-Ireland Minor Football Championship Final back in 2011 when his star-studded team fell victim to a wonderful Tipperary comeback in a final that reflected all the efforts being done to promote the big ball in the county.

"I think it's little short of amazing what they have done in becoming so competitive in an environment in which Kerry and Cork have held the upper hand for so long," said Farrell.

"Of course, they will look to build on these teams at senior level and building competitive U21 teams is a positive step in that direction.

"We know that they will enter the match on Saturday with high hopes of getting the better of us and their belief in their own abilities is well earned given the tlaent that they possess in their ranks.

"They have a number of players that would get in any team in the country and their track record is very good," he added.

Of course, Farrell has a number of talented players of his own to call upon and although Dublin have yet to reach the heights that many expected of them, their successful Leinster campaign was still punctuated with moments of genuine class that was sufficient to see off the respective challenges of Laois, Longford and Kildare.

Cormac Costello's return to the starting line-up for the Leinster Final last Thursday week saw the Whitehall Colmcille player chip in with 2-2 while Conor McHugh has replicated his Man of the Match turn in last year's All-Ireland Final against Roscommon with a series of exceptional attacking displays.

However, there is recognition from Farrell that Dublin's form to date would not be enough to progress beyond Saturday, given the inconsistencies that his team has shown when defending their provincial crown.

"I think that there will be very little between the sides at the final whistle," said the 1995 All-Ireland winner.

"Any time that you enter the All-Ireland series, you know that the calibre of opponent is greater than what you have faced up until that point and we will need to raise our game at the weekend.

"Some of the games so far in the U21 Championship have been excellent spectacles from the neutral point of view and I would imagine that Saturday will be no different.


"Both teams are committed to playing a fast, open style of football with the emphasis on attack so I would anticipate another cracking encounter in Tullamore with some fascinating individual battles," he added.

Of course, the nature of the championship doesn't allow Farrell or his counterpart Tommy Toomey much time to address tactical issues with little enough time between matches.

In an ideal world, Farrell and his backroom team would be able to focus exclusively on his panel alone but club commitments and Dublin's run to the National League Final has made life that little bit more complicated in the run-in to Saturday.

"I suppose it's one of the great challenges at this level in using your time as well as you possibly can," said Farrell.

"It is nearly a case of focusing and concentrating on the issues that you deem most important and ensuring that the right time is spent on these matters, given how restricted your time is with the panel.

"Prioritising at this level is hugely important because you have such a tight window between matches but that is part and parcel of the challenge that we face in preparing our teams.

"Having said that, it's great to have another All-Ireland semi-final to look forward to for both the players and the management and hopefully we can produce an improved performance and that we can secure a positive result," concluded Farrell.

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