Dublin find their voice at last as they look to keep top-flight status

Dessie Farrell will have been encouraged by victory over Tyrone in Omagh

Typical, Dessie Farrell may think. The very day he has a good news post-match press conference, he can't speak to the media. After the Gaelic Players Association directive that teams shouldn't engage with media – as part of their ongoing dispute with Croke Park regarding expenses – the Dublin manager, who is a former chief executive of the GPA, politely declined to do interviews.

Tyrone did likewise but after the All-Ireland champions had slumped to a third league defeat, that was hardly much of a disappointment for Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher or their players.

The media disengagement wasn't universally observed with some counties providing comment for media after matches. Kerry manager Jack O'Connor spoke to RTÉ on Saturday night but the other league rights holders TG4 were informed before the match in Omagh that neither team would be providing interviews before or afterwards.

Dublin, facing a record fifth league defeat on the bounce, produced a much better performance to revive their hopes of avoiding relegation. Results elsewhere had meant that they couldn’t have been relegated anyway, regardless of the outcome in Omagh.

They were helped on their way by Brian Fenton's best display of the season. Among the indirect consequences was the red card that reduced Tyrone to 14 for most of the match. Captain Pádraig Hampsey, their go-to man-marker but usually in the full-back line, was in a bold gambit sent after Fenton from the start.

It didn't go well in that Dublin's twice Footballer of the Year caught a good bit of ball and was at the heart of his team's attacks. Hampsey first got sin-binned for taking down Tom Lahiff and in the 39th minute, a yellow card for a push on Cormac Costello earned him a cumulative dismissal.

At half-time Dublin were 0-11 to 0-2 in front and the match was all but gone from the home side and if the second half featured a bit of a comeback from the champions and a subdued 35 minutes from the visitors, the precious result was well managed in the end.

The outcome wasn’t the extent of the good news for Dublin. Farrell was able to reintroduce three important players, who had been missing for most of what has been a trying campaign.

James McCarthy, the only remaining member of the panel with eight Celtic Crosses, and arguably the most influential outfield player of the past decade, re-entered the lists for the first time this season as a 53rd-minute replacement.

He joined Eoin Murchan, also off the bench, as well as Costello – both of whom hadn't been seen since opening night injuries in the defeat by Armagh – and Robert McDaid, making his first start of the campaign.

They all contributed and the effect was a decent, coherent performance, well in advance of the indecisive and inaccurate displays that had made them relegation candidates.

Dublin, on two points, have two matches left: Donegal in Croke Park next weekend and Monaghan in Clones a week later. Win both and they have a good chance of staying up.

They finally got the car ignition going yesterday. The question now is can they outrace the landslide in the fortnight ahead.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times

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