Football

Dublin boss Dessie Farrell warns of tougher tests to come for Leinster SFC champs

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell in Croke Park. Pic Philip Walsh
Dublin manager Dessie Farrell in Croke Park. Pic Philip Walsh Dublin manager Dessie Farrell in Croke Park. Pic Philip Walsh

Dublin will be expected to cruise to the top of Sam Maguire Cup Group 3 – but their manager Dessie Farrell warned that they aren't best prepared for better opposition than they've faced so far.

Roscommon, visitors to Croke Park on the last weekend of this month, will be the first Division One opponents for the Dubs this year, noted Farrell. They'll also be the only ones before the knockout stages of the All-Ireland SFC as Sligo (Division Four) and Kildare (Division Two) are the other teams in that section.

Dublin brushed Louth aside in Sunday's Leinster Final, winning by 21 points, and as regards preparations for what's to come, Farrell commented: ""Well, it didn't help that we've been playing in Division Two this year never mind the provincial title.

"With a Dublin hat on, we're very conscious of how our season has gone thus far and while today was very pleasing we still have only played Division Two or Division Four teams this season thus far.

"So, there is a big step up in class coming at us fairly quickly. We have Roscommon coming at us in two weeks now and they have been wholly impressive all season and have had some really good games under their belts against stiff competition that we have probably yet to face, bar two weeks ago against Kildare. That's going to be a challenge for us and we need to be ready for that."

The Na Fianna clubman accepted the view that Dublin's defence has not been tested so far, bar perhaps by Derry, who defeated them in Celtic Park during the League: "I think that's a fair enough comment and those tests are coming down the tracks very, very quickly."

Dublin players converge on Derry's Niall Loughlin during the Allianz Division Two Final at Croke Park Dublin. Pic Philip Walsh
Dublin players converge on Derry's Niall Loughlin during the Allianz Division Two Final at Croke Park Dublin. Pic Philip Walsh Dublin players converge on Derry's Niall Loughlin during the Allianz Division Two Final at Croke Park Dublin. Pic Philip Walsh

On the upside, Dublin are likely to have two regular defenders available to them soon after both Michael Fitzsimons and Eoin Murchan were absent from the match-day 26 on Leinster Final day, due to exam commitments and injury respectively:

"Mick's exams, I think, are early this week. He's been training away to be fair to him but just to take a bit of pressure off him we excused from this, which we've no problem with because he's a really big set of exams coming up and he's looking forward to getting over them and to commit in the way that he needs to and knows he needs to.

"Eoin Murchan has had an injury and he's working his way back and working hard in rehab so we hope to have him back in two weeks' time as well."

Goalkeeper Evan Comerford should also be back to challenge veteran Stephen Cluxton for the number one jersey, having returned to training, a welcome boost as Farrell anticipates a need for squad depth in the new format:

"I think this year more than any in recent squad depth is going to be really, really important. You're bound to pick up injuries given the schedule and fellas' confidence ebbs and flows. so having a strong squad and depth in the squad is going to be really important.

"Obviously, we've got a couple of additions back this year [Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion], which will help with that, but we're very pleased with the younger players... I think we've had 22 new players in in the last two years out of a squad of 38 so it's a significant number and how they have found their feet and being comfortable in their own skin amongst the group and pushing and driving on and that all helps."