Fox hails juniors despite Lilies exit
DUBLIN's disappointing conclusion to their Leinster Junior Football Championship campaign last Wednesday evening highlighted the difficulties experienced in the restrictive nature of the Dubs' team selection.
Despite that, team manager Seán Fox refused to use it as an excuse as Dublin fell by seven points to a dominant Kildare, with the concession of 1-3 inside the opening six minutes effectively ending the Blues’ challenge before it had begun.
“As a management team we started off the season in the knowledge that the rules in which Dublin junior football teams must play within dictate that our panel cannot be constituted or made up of any of the 640-plus players who participated in the Dublin Senior Football Championship in 2010,” said Fox.
“The rules for most other counties are less restrictive, which puts Dublin on the back foot to start with. As a management team, myself and my team were fully accepting of these rules and set about gathering a panel of players together as best we could from the player pool within the county.”
Dublin experienced few difficulties in disposing of Wicklow in the opening round, but the challenge of Kildare in the provincial semi-final proved a bridge too far given the profile the junior Lilywhites enjoys regarding its preparation and potential promotion to senior level, a fact acknowledged by the Kilmacud Crokes clubman.
“The game last Wednesday against Kildare was always going to be a tough one,” said Fox.
“We knew that Kildare use the junior championship team as their development team, with the majority of their team involved in the senior set-up and training programme since last autumn.
“Had we not had such a bad start, conceding 1-3 so early, I believe that we may have had a closer match and a closer finish in the end,” said Fox.
Dublin will rue a number of missed chances midway through the first-half, which, if taken, could have allowed them to attack with more momentum in the second half but their confidence waned with each wide.
Despite that, there was much to admire in Dublin's attitude throughout and Fox concluded on a positive note as he assessed their truncated campaign in its entirety.
“I would have said that between having started to gather a panel together in early March to our exit last Wednesday, we succeeded in building a team with passion, ethos, commitment and spirit like I have never experienced in such short a time before,” he said.
“In the 12 or so outings we had, we only failed on two occasions to beat the opposition. Great credit for this must go to the players under team captain Eoin Kinsella and vice captain Barry Hehir and also to our trainers, Ciarán Stone and Liam Ecock, and of course my fellow selectors in Martin Moore, Dave Ryan and Tony Lamb.
“If you were to ask our panel of players how they got on this year, they will tell you that they were deeply disappointed to lose to Kildare, that they all gained valuable experience and learnt new things about training and team/game preparation that they will be able to use in their future careers.”