All-Ireland glory for Under-21s

by Stephen Findlater

DUBLIN Under-21 manager Dessie Farrell said there was “a sense” that his side could produce the stunning first half performance that they delivered to blow away Roscommon in the Cadbury All-Ireland football championship final.

They produced a near perfect first half performance to run up a huge 1-17 to 0-1 lead five minutes into the second and, while the Rossies nabbed three goals, the Sky-Blues used the platform for a comfortable victory.

Speaking afterwards, Farrell said: “We had a sense it was coming because fellas were in the right frame of mind. The stuff we spoke about wanting to do, they executed it masterfully in the first half.”

It fulfilled a long-term project with the side for Farrell who has worked with this side for the past nine years.

“I first took this team as under-13s, and I really do feel very privileged, because we have seen them grow from boys to me, if you like. That’s been special to witness, to see how they’ve developed as players on the field, and men off the field. It’s been a great journey, and I’m delighted for them.

“We’re just really fortunate that we’ve a good crop of players at senior and under-21 level. I wouldn’t be getting carried away with it, though.

“A lot of good work has gone in at county board level, and we’re reaping the rewards for that.”

One of the stars of the show was Na Fianna man Conor McHugh. He scored the goal in the 1-21 to 3-6 victory but was quick to pay tribute to team mates.

“It’s the lads out the field – they put it on a plate for me in the first half,” he said.

“The tackling was unbelievable from the defence, and when you have 30 yards of space it’s easy to be a forward – the defence deserve all the credit there.

“We knew they had very attacking half-backs, and if we got on top of them that would make them defend, so that worked out well. Great tactics from the management, they really did their homework.”

He also added that the experience his side had of the big occasion meant there were never any pre-match jitters going into such a big occasion.

“Every player on this team has played in an All-Ireland final already, at minor, under-21, or even senior.

“We were very relaxed coming in, and that experience creates calmness. You could feel it. None of the lads were nervous at all.”

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