Dublin will learn lessons from Derry defeat: Dessie Farrell

Dublin’s Brian Howard and Derry’s Conor Doherty contest a high ball.
Dublin’s Brian Howard and Derry’s Conor Doherty contest a high ball. Picture Mark Marlow

A GREAT experience; grateful for that. Derry manager Mickey Harte understandably hailed this as “a great day for Gaelic games” – but those opening words came from his Dublin counterpart Dessie Farrell.

The Blues boss wasn’t just spouting positive thinking platitudes, acknowledging that he and his players were desperate to win this final, as illustrated by the fighting spirit they showed in every sense:

“We came here today to win the game, we didn’t do that so naturally, there will be disappointment and a sour taste in the mouth.”

However, despite Derry deservedly seeing them off in the penalty shoot-out, having been pegged back late in normal time then by a last-gasp goal in extra time, Farrell insisted that the All-Ireland champions derived benefits from this loss:

“On the flipside of it, a great experience for players to encounter what they did today. The whole of extra-time, the penalties, even taking a step up in terms of the opposition we are playing today.

“There had been a bit of shadow boxing going on in the league. We had beaten teams who had been very depleted in terms of player who were available to them, or resting players, dead rubbers, whatever it might be.

“We spoke about it during the week, that the narrative that had developed externally around the team, we knew it was not a true reflection of what was going on and that today was going to be a proper examination.

“It was that. And there’s a lot for us to take from today and we would be grateful for that because you can’t conjure that up in internal games or challenge matches. We will pick that apart and hopefully come back a bit stronger for it.”

Dublin boss Dessie Farrell
Dublin’s Dessie Farrell during the Allianz GAA Football league Division One final at Croke Park, Dublin. Picture Mark Marlow

One other obvious downside was the late dismissal of star midfielder Brian Fenton, for reacting to a dig to his ribs from Derry sub Eunan Mulholland.

As it stands, the Raheny man will miss the Leinster opener against Meath or Longford, but Farrell said Dublin “definitely will” contest that red card, explaining:

“I sort of half saw it. I would need to look at the video to be honest to see what went on. It would not be in Brian’s character. I saw him pushing a player; now that could be a sending off, I don’t know but anyway I am sure that the powers that be and our own county board will take a look at that and see what happens.”

Fenton could not participate in the penalty shoot-out, but Farrell was glad of it, despite the outcome:

“There is a bit of a lottery going on with penalties but it was a good experience for us today to be in it. There is nothing like the immersive experience: you can plan for things and theorise about things that you may see in the future but until you actually go through it, the learning is not the same.”

Being second best in the game itself will be Dublin’s main focus of review, even though their players almost saved themselves:

“Yeah, the lads showed great character because we were flat at times today, for whatever reason. That energy and drive wasn’t there that we would have hoped.

“It looked at stages that Derry could pull away but we were able to hang on in there and the lads showed great character…

“But we would be disappointed with goal chances coughed up, kickouts conceded today. There’s loads to work on and we knew that to be fair – that that was the case and it’s great to actually see it, front and centre there today.

“We can take this game, look at the performance and really analyse it that we can learn a lot from it.”