Football

Dublin set to mix it up in last two games: Dessie Farrell

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell shouts instructions during the All-Ireland final. Picture: Philip Walsh
Dublin manager Dessie Farrell shouts instructions during the All-Ireland final. Picture: Philip Walsh Dublin manager Dessie Farrell shouts instructions during the All-Ireland final. Picture: Philip Walsh

DUBLIN manager Dessie Farrell believes his team performs better if he doesn’t set them specific targets in terms of league position.

“It can be difficult if you hold the gun to your own head to get a free-flowing performance. You can feel very restricted and inhibited,” said the Na Fianna clubman.

The Boys in Blue are now in second spot in Division One on scoring difference after victory away to leaders Derry on Saturday night, a third consecutive win for the Dubs.



However, Farrell insists their sights were only set on playing well and that will remain the case when they travel to Galway then host Tyrone in their two remaining matches.

“We didn’t get into a discussion around avoiding relegation or trying to make a league final. We were probably down that road two years ago and learned from it.”

Dublin suffered a surprise relegation from the top flight in 2022 but bounced straight back up alongside Derry, defeating the Oak Leafers in last year’s Division Two Final even after earlier losing to them at Celtic Park.

Another defeat at the Derry venue would have left Dublin firmly in the relegation mix. Instead they won fairly comfortably against an admittedly understrength home side.

“For us it was about bringing consistency into our game, bringing consistency across the quarters and then going out and playing the game on its own merits. We’re happy with that,” said Farrell.

Derry forward Cormac Murphy takes on Cian Murphy of Dublin
Derry forward Cormac Murphy takes on Cian Murphy of Dublin during the National Football League match played at Celtic Park in Derry on Saturday 2nd of March 2024. Picture Margaret McLaughlin (Margaret McLaughlin Photography )

Now on six points – along with Kerry and Mayo – Farrell fudged the issue of whether Dublin would now be targeting a place in the Division One decider:

“No, not necessarily… we just take these two games at face value and play them as they come. For us I think it’s about the continuous evolution of this team, this group. And continuing to get better and develop the right way and see that growth in various aspects of our game that we are looking for and I think that’s the attitude and approach we will have for the next two games.

“It might be an opportunity to try out some other fellas, younger players, give them some more exposure and then maybe some other fellas who are coming back into the mix as well, give them some game-time too.”

Dublin were certainly looking better in terms of squad depth, with Brian Howard returning to the starting line-up, Cormac Costello coming on to score a goal, and Paul Mannion on the bench:

“Yeah, Paul came back into the squad a few weeks ago and Cormac was back from injury, he got a nasty knock, it was good to get him back.

“Brian Howard had a bad injury early, back with his club late in the summer, so he’s had a long rehabilitation. We got him in the last day for as few minutes, it was great to get him in from the start tonight. He surprised us in terms of him lasting the full duration – good to get a full game into Brian.”

If Farrell does try out some less experienced players in the final two rounds, he is confident that men such was Ciaran Kilkenny and peerless midfielder Brian Fenton will set the right example, saying:

“Those two lads have the bit between their teeth so far, which is very encouraging. The young lads around them need to see that – it is leadership in action that is required when we’ve young players in the mix who are looking to get on the right track and do the right thing, and those older lads are showing the way.”