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McCarthy and bench comeback key: Talty

Ability to play until final whistle rescues share of the spoils for inexperienced Dublin

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Monaghan came very close to beating the Dubs at Croke Park recently

Monaghan came very close to beating the Dubs at Croke Park recently

SPORTSFILE

Monaghan came very close to beating the Dubs at Croke Park recently

Finding the right balance at this time of the year is the biggest challenge that faces any intercounty manager and Dessie Farrell is no different as he attempts to weigh up his options ahead of directing the collective focus to greater ambitions later in the year.

Throw in the fact that Farrell is cutting his managerial teeth, at the senior intercounty level anyway, and that he is following in the footsteps of one of the greatest managers the game has ever seen in Jim Gavin and the scale of the task becomes even more pronounced.

Only the harshest taskmaster would deny Farrell the opportunity to adequately assess the depth of playing talent available to him and the only way to do this is to test the players' suitability in the competitive environment of Division 1 of the National Football League.

Farrell does not have the credit in the bank that Gavin built up during his remarkable successful tenure and as a result, that balance between ensuring all potential panellists are given a fair crack of the whip with achieving positive results becomes an even more delicate one.

The performances against both Kerry and Mayo, and the generally encouraging results that ensued, were driven by a cohort of established players mixed with some new blood. There was always a risk that the Dubs might struggle against a team that holds an edge in terms of experience, something Monaghan brought in spades to Croke Park last weekend.

"I think before you look closely at Dublin's performance, you have to give credit to Monaghan for how well they played on Saturday night," said former Dublin selector Brian Talty.

"They came with a very obvious game plan and implemented it very well, especially in the first quarter.

"They just didn't allow Dublin to have the ball, something that Dublin manage to do very successfully against other teams, and when Dublin did manage to get their hands on it, they lacked options in attack as Monaghan doubled up in defence extremely effectively.

"You would also have to acknowledge that Monaghan played with greater intensity than Dublin did, in the first-half at least, and in truth, they could have been further ahead than nine points at half-time.

"Whatever they discussed in the dressing room at the break, Dublin were a different proposition in the second-half and while they didn't seem to do anything different in terms of their tactics, they just increased the intensity in their play.

"Dublin were in serious trouble at half-time and it needed their captain to stand up and drive the team on and James McCarthy did that brilliantly.

"He has been an unbelievable player for Dublin for a decade now and his standard and consistency of performance makes him stand out over his peers.

"He was able to lift the team through his actions on the pitch and he seems to be relishing the captaincy role that has been handed him in Stephen Cluxton's absence.

"James has been a key part of this Dublin team for a long time now yet Saturday night highlighted again how important he is to the team," said Talty.

The Ballymun Kickhams player was not the only driving force behind Dublin's comeback with the likes of Seán Bugler, Kevin McManamon and Colm Basquel all contributing to Dublin's improved showing upon the resumption.

Gaps began to appear in the away defence as the home attack moved the ball with greater speed than in their ponderous efforts initially and were rewarded with a third unbeaten game thanks to David Byrne's last gasp point.

"Dublin played with greater intensity in the second-half and the substitutes were key in that," said Talty.

"It took the bench to come in and drive the team on and they tipped away with scores as the half progressed.

"You could sense that the closer that Dublin got to Monaghan, the more that the opposition began to become more nervous and their error count and decision making suffered in the closing stages.

"Monaghan are not the first team that has buckled under Dublin pressure in the dying stages of games and that is something that the Dubs still hold over most of their challengers.

"They have built up great experience in closing out tight games or rescuing draws from precarious positions and history repeated itself again last Saturday evening.

"Bugler kicked three great scores when introduced and is certainly putting his hand up in terms of later in the year.

"I also felt that Dan O'Brien did quite well given the circumstances and although he had one wild point attempt, I thought that he kept on showing for the ball and wasn't afraid to take on the responsibility when Dublin were having difficulties in the first half.

"You could also say that Evan Comerford has equipped himself well although he was placed under a fair degree of pressure on Saturday but you would have to be happy with how he has stepped into Stephen Cluxton's shoes with a minimum of disruption.

Encouraged

"Overall, I think Dublin should be encouraged with where they are at the minute and they seem to be set up in a very similar way to how they were under Jim Gavin.

"They still show the same patience when in possession and given that Dessie Farrell has been able to have a look at some of the fringe players and give them a fair opportunity of staking a claim, while remaining unbeaten is probably as good as Dublin could have hoped for," added Talty.