FOUR YEARS ON and Dessie Farrell’s December focus has changed.
At this time in 2016, Farrell was preparing to wrap up his duties as CEO of the GPA after a 14-year spell.
During the course of his last interview in that role, Farrell distanced himself from the prospect of becoming Dublin senior boss in the future.
At the time he was U21 manager and had plenty experience tending to underage teams but 1995 All-Ireland winner as a player saw the commitment as too exhausting to consider taking on the main position in the capital.
Come forward to 2020 and much has changed. After as chaotic a first season imaginable for a senior inter-county manager, Farrell finds himself plotting for an All-Ireland senior final against Mayo next Saturday.
So what has changed?
“Probably deep down there was always this harbouring sort of, that it would be something that would be a great honour to do at some point in time,” says Farrell.
“I’ve been involved with Dublin football as a player and as a coach of underage teams and it is a great honour and it’s something I enjoy immensely and love doing.
“I think at the time it was probably more out of respect to Jim and the current management team. You don’t necessarily need to be distracted by what some gobshite is saying in the paper. So that was probably part of it as well.”
Jim Gavin celebrates with Stephen Cluxton after the All-Ireland senior final replay.
Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO
The way was paved for Farrell to take over when Jim Gavin abruptly moved on last November after overseeing a glorious run of success.
From being in charge for short bursts in the spring with U21 teams, the new man was at the helm for an all-encompassing senior role.
“I won’t say life changing but there’s a massive adjustment for sure. You’ve got to get better at managing time, prioritising, compartmentalising things. It’s so all consuming you need to remember the important stuff in life as well and that can be a challenge too. By and large you get there and you muddle your way through it and you do what you have to do.
“It’s definitely not a case of the hard work or the time commitment, it was moreso did you have the tools and the know how and what not. That was probably the greatest concern. So from that point of view it’s been, as I say, a great honour and they’re a great bunch of players to get the opportunity to work with.”
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Dublin football manager Dessie Farrell.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
For all of Dublin’s days of glory, the setbacks linger with Farrell like the 2011 minor final loss to Tipperary and the U21 semi-final reversals of ’15 and ’16.
“There’s always a sort of a negative bias in the back of the head. You don’t tend to focus on the ones that worked out. It’s the ones that you lost along the way that tend to consume you. And there’s a discipline around that of course in its own right in terms of having that positive outlook and being optimistic.
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“It’s something you get a little bit better with as you get older I think as well. Look, yeah, there have been plenty of experiences to fall back on, it’s how you choose to view them I think is the thing then.”
Despite a compressed campaign run off during winter this year, Dublin’s panel has not been hit hard by injuries as their players plough on in what Farrell admits is ‘a golden era’.
“Thankfully (no injuries), which has been surprising. We’ve had a good run of it.
“I remember with a club team last year, Na Fianna, coming into one of the big games we had something like 10 fellas carrying knocks and injuries and that type of thing. I expected something similar, particularly at the latter stage of the competition, that we would have some casualties but we don’t thankfully, touch wood.
“It’s about the individual attitude of the players within the group and it’s definitely a golden era because to me that’s what sets them apart, the practice, the extra 100 kick-outs on a given night, like Stephen Cluxton does, or doing the extra sessions or the extra reps and the extra drills.
“That’s not about resourcing or facilities or the size of clubs, that’s about fellas that are hungry and applying themselves and that have the attitude to be as competitive as they can be. It’s definitely a factor, a consideration for me looking at them for the period I’ve had them.”
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