Football

Latest Sam Maguire win probably the last dance for Dubs veterans admits Dessie Farrell

Dublin celebrate their All-Ireland SFC Final victory over Kerry.
Dublin celebrate their All-Ireland SFC Final victory over Kerry. Dublin celebrate their All-Ireland SFC Final victory over Kerry.

Dessie Farrell has admitted that Dublin's latest All-Ireland triumph was probably the 'last dance' for several of his ageing crew.

Dean Rock signalled his retirement after the landmark win against Kerry while victorious captain James McCarthy said it could be a nice way for him to make his exit too.

There are question marks over the futures of Stephen Cluxton, Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion also, the trio that returned from retirement to play in 2023, along with defensive stalwart Mick Fitzsimons.

Speaking ahead of Dublin's official homecoming in Smithfield last night, boss Farrell said the likelihood is that the group will be different in 2024.

"We didn't really speak collectively about that," said Farrell. "There was an understanding that for some this could be the last dance, so to speak, and we didn't try to leverage or use that because sometimes that can be inauthentic, and you're trying to create a crutch or a hook that may not necessarily work to your advantage.

"They're all going to be individual decisions for everybody involved and I think this final was about that group coming together, it didn't really matter who was in the group.

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"It was a case of a strong bond developing over the last nine months. I mentioned the young lads before, coming in and bringing great energy and enthusiasm, and they sparked life into some of the senior lads and definitely having some of the other lads who were away and came back helped.

"There was a great sense of comfort in that as well. Being part of the team, the dynamics can be different from one team to another but that sense of cohesion and sense of brotherhood was great amongst the group.

"You can overstep the mark and try to contrive or manufacture that into something that isn't natural or organic but there was a lovely flow to the season for us.

"We got the timing right and that blend of youth and experience seemed to work as well. That was what this win was about. Not necessarily about what was to come or who might be there in the future. We didn't travel that road. It was more about who we have here at the minute and to be grateful for all those individuals."

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Farrell and his Dublin players celebrated Sunday's win at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry, close to the offices of the Gaelic Players Association where Farrell previously worked before quitting his Chief Executive role in late 2016.

The Na Fianna man accompanied a group of players, along with the Sam Maguire Cup, on a number of visits to children's hospitals in the capital before the homecoming yesterday evening.

Farrell admitted that his first waking moments yesterday morning were hazy and then euphoric.

"There's always that moment just as you wake up and you're trying to figure out where you are, what happened yesterday? Did you win or lose?" smiled Farrell. "Yeah, it was very satisfying to wake up and quickly process that and know that we accomplished what we set out to do."

Farrell acknowledged that while neutrals probably didn't care whether Dublin or Kerry extended their winning streaks, it was a stand out win within his own county.

"Dublin being the capital city and the success they've had over the last decade, it's natural that there may be people around the country supporting the opposition on any given day," he said.

"But obviously Kerry are a stronghold of Gaelic football as well. But I do think for a lot of Dublin people there was a sense of something special about this victory.

"You can't really put the finger on what that was. They're a special group of players and there's huge affection for them within the city by the people of Dublin so it's probably something to do with that."

Behind the scenes, Pat Gilroy, Dublin's 2011 All-Ireland winning manager who was brought back into the management team this year by Farrell, has been credited with being a central figure.

"He's a special individual," said Farrell. "This season, we had a cup of coffee and I just put it to him if he would be in a position to give us a little bit more and was he able to? He's a special character so it was great to have him involved. It was all about whatever the group needed."