Farrell says key to Dublin’s better second half was patience

‘I certainly thought we could have made it a lot closer,’ says Kildare manager O’Connor

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell celebrating with  Sean McMahon and Sean Bugler after the game against Kildare at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell celebrating with Sean McMahon and Sean Bugler after the game against Kildare at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

More than anyone else, Dublin still have an abundance of problem-solvers. Ciarán Kilkenny got to half time here having had an ordinary outing to say the least. He had a point on the board but had kicked two wides and twice got done for over-carrying. Not like him at all.

But really, he was just a symptom of the general malaise across the Dublin side during a first half where they only scored nine points from 18 shots. A 50 per cent shooting rate is nobody’s idea of a threshing machine. Given how bare the Dublin bench suddenly looks, it was something Kilkenny and the rest of them were going to have to fix by themselves.

And so they did. They took just 12 shots in the second half and kicked 11 points. Kilkenny kicked three from three, including a mark. Brian Fenton – who had a shocker all day – was responsible for their only wide and they dropped nothing short. It was an impressive turnaround in efficiency and it was all their own work.

“It’s something we spoke about at half time,” said Dessie Farrell afterwards. “I think it is just a case of making better decisions, probably being a little bit more patient. In the first half we were forcing some shots from difficult angles, maybe not having the time and space to pull the trigger that way.

“I think we did a better job [in the second half]. The way Kildare were set up, they were difficult to penetrate, so we just had to be patient, probing, probing, wait for the right opportunity. And I think we managed that a bit better in the second half.”

They did, yes. And there was never a stage when Kildare had a sniff of anything special. But nonetheless, an eight-point win rounds off Dublin’s least impressive Leinster campaign in a while. Their average winning margin has been just a shade under seven points. That’s down from 18 last year, 19 the year before and 20 back in 2018. They are squeezing the life out of the opposition now rather than blowing them to smithereens.

Own merits

“I don’t necessarily see it as a concern,” Farrell said. “We just have to take every game on its own merits and you can’t look back and compare to what has gone on, you have to look forward and understand and interpret the challenge that lies ahead, and get yourself right for that. Ultimately it is about winning games and being as competitive as you can to win games and that is what we are going out to do.”

For Jack O’Connor, losing to Dublin isn’t the kind of thing he’s ever going to crack a smile over, regardless of who he comes armed with. When the game was close(ish) in the first half, Kildare kicked five balls into Evan Comerford’s hands and leathered another three wide. That won’t get it done.

“I’m disappointed,” O’Connor said. “I thought we’d opportunities out there. I wasn’t taking the stats but I’m fairly certain that we dropped five or six into the goalie, kicked a few poor wides, did not seem to be getting the close decisions or marginal decisions that might have gone for us another day.

“I just thought we had opportunities but at the end of the day we got beaten by eight so it’s hard to disagree with the scoreboard. But I certainly thought we could have made it a lot closer.

Great lift

“[The goal] was a great lift to us that time and gave us a small bit of life, but Dublin are a seasoned team, who’s to say they wouldn’t have raised their game again? They do keep the ball very well, and they frustrate you by the amount of time they keep the ball.”

And what of Dublin, so? Few managers are better placed than O’Connor to run his eye over them and sum up their roadworthiness for the month ahead.

“You know, I think they’ll probably have to improve a bit if they’re going to go the distance,” O’Connor said. “But who’s to say that improvement isn’t in them? They might be just timing their run and there’s only one day you need to peak. And you know when that is.”

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