On April 29th, Dublin’s U21 Football Panel will compete in their first All Ireland Final since their 2014 victory over Roscommon. And the Dubs will be looking to make history being the last team to win this competition as the it will be replaced by a brand new U20 competition in 2018.
Dublin manager Dessie Farrell, in his fifth season as U21 boss, has clinched four Leinster titles, and was at the helm back in 2014 for their last All Ireland win. The team has gone through a lot of changes since then and Dessie admits his panel are still very young.
“I think we were probably punching above our weight in some ways.” Farrell told the Herald. “But yeah, that experience just stands to them.”
A large proportion of this Dublin side were part of the 2014 Minor Panel that were beaten in the Championship Semi Final by Donegal, so last weekend’s result in this competition had more bearing than most people thought.
In addition, a few were in last year’s panel that were beaten by Mayo at this point in the competition.
“It’s great for them. Because they struggled at this point for a long time. But now they’re there.”
“It will count for nothing unless they put in a performance the next day.”
The case in point is, current panel member, and Cuala hurler Con O’Callaghan is the only member of the team to play in an inter county All Ireland final. But Farrell admits the final has not been up for much conversation thus far.
“They worked hard up until this point and they were here on their own merits. Just take it as it comes.”
“It was mentioned alright in reference but this was a new day, new dawn type of thing,” he explained.
For Farrell though, the end of the U21 competition will see the end of his very close relationship with it. And it’s something that’s been close to his heart for a long time.
“I’ve been very involved with it but at the same time I can see how it makes sense and I was probably one of the supporters of that call at the time as well.”
“It’s not like years ago where the 21 was a bridge between minor and senior, strength and conditioning wise now players are capable at a younger age of making the senior ranks and there’s just such a burden on them of college, club, Under 21, senior then for those that are good enough.”
“It’s too much to ask of young players and that’s why I’d support the concept from a player welfare perspective but without doubt the competition will be a loss.”