Dessie Farrell: ‘This is a great test of character for us all’

DESSIE FARRELL REMAINS fully confident in Dublin’s ability to arrest their slide and turn the season around following their fourth defeat on the bounce.

The All-Ireland winning player and manager is enduring the most difficult period of his reign since replacing Jim Gavin at the end of 2019.

Their winless start to the league arrives on the back of last year’s All-Ireland semi-final reverse to Mayo, meaning they’ve incredibly lost five competitive games in succession. 

Farrell identified injuries to key players and a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal as the key reasons for Dublin’s recent poor run of results, but backed his team to respond in the right way.   

“Obviously we’re very disappointed,” he said after the 1-12 to 0-12 defeat to neighbours Kildare.

“We probably felt we could have come away with something today, just the execution was poor at times and we coughed up a couple of goal chances.

“To be honest, I can’t fault the commitment and the intensity,” he continued. 

“(The players) have been remarkably positive. This is a great test of character for us all and a huge opportunity to build resilience and through adversity come to greater strength.

“It’s been a baptism of fire for new players for sure and a very different environment for the senior players. It’s all new. All you can do is embrace it and run with it – navigate your way through it and that’s what we’re about.

“There’s still a very talented bunch of players, the core group of this panel. A lot of experience, a lot of know-how. I think the challenge for us is to get everyone fit and healthy.

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“We need to work out a couple of things. Build in a little bit of cohesiveness into our play and I think we will be very competitive. Where that gets us we’ll know in the course of time.

“There wouldn’t be too many backing us now at this stage. But I’m confident in the players. I’ve faith in the whole group to find a way – and that’s what we intend to do.

“Some of the senior players have found themselves in a situation that they haven’t before. How they respond to that, in terms of their attitude, commitment and the energy they’re bringing to training and how they’ve embraced young players, they’ve been fantastic.

“It’s just not clicking for us and hopefully that’ll come,” he added.

Dublin haven’t scored a goal in their last three games. While they created three decent goal chances in Newbridge, they were unable to raise a green flag. 

“Is it a little bit of confidence?” he asked. “I’m not sure.

“The effort to create opportunities was there – just the finishing wasn’t. Players were maybe a little bit out of sync and that cohesiveness isn’t there and it’s the tightest of margins balls being saved or ending up in the back of the net.”

Asked if Dublin’s aura of invincibility has disappeared, he responded: “I think people would say that was inevitable – it was always going to happen.

“It doesn’t make it any easier of course. We’ve just got to suck it up. Do what we need to do. Stay positive, stay focused on the task at hand, and that’s what we will do.”

First appearances of the season for Robbie McDaid, back after shoulder surgery, and Cillian O’Shea, who was the sole Kilmacud Crokes representative on the panel, brought Dublin to 31 players used in this campaign.

Regulars James McCarthy, Con O’Callaghan, Eoin Murchan, Cormac Costello and Paddy Small remain absent with injuries, while prospects Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne and Ciaran Archer are also out.

Jonny Cooper did make his first start since returning and Aaron Byrne and McDaid arrived off the bench follow recent lay-offs.

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Farrell was coy around a timeline for the return of former All-Stars McCarthy and O’Callaghan.

“We’ve been unfortunate with some of the senior personnel who have been injured for a sustained period,” he said. “When they come back into the mix, it adds options and strength but as well, it brings an air of calm.

“We’re hoping to have a few players back in the next couple of weeks. It offers us different options for sure.”

Dublin travel to Omagh to face All-Ireland champions Tyrone in a fortnight with ties against Donegal and Armagh on the horizon. 

“We need to be converting some of these good performances into league points,” he said.  

“The focus for us has to be on the performance and take each performance game by game and continue to layer in improvements, continue to take the learnings from previous games and I think we’ve been doing that

“We’re just taking it game by game, we can’t look beyond that. We can’t get hung up on outcomes or potential consequences, it’s about performances for us. As I mentioned at the start of the league, our ambition was to build ourselves to the extent that we would be really, really competitive come summer time.

“Of course the league hasn’t gone the way we would have hoped but we have to stay focussed on what the big picture might be and that has to improve performance as we go and we’ll be looking to do that in the next game as well.”

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