A three-in-a-row of Leinster titles achieved on Saturday afternoon in Navan with a young side not tipped for success is already a considerable feat.
That’s not to suggest it’s a poor Dublin side, far from it, and in Con O’Callaghan they have a rare talent whose 1-7 haul tipped a dramatic extra-time tie Dublin’s way.
But the Cuala clubman is their only senior player while the 2014 team which won Leinster and All-Ireland gold possessed David Byrne, John Small, Jack McCaffrey, Brian Fenton, Paul Mannion and Cormac Costello. Similarly, Farrell’s Dublin minor team that won the 2012 All-Ireland had players who have since collected senior medals at club and county level.
“It’s different because in other years we’ve had seven or eight fellas that were good enough to be on the senior panel,” said Farrell.
“This year we haven’t had that, it’s only the one so that’s an indication maybe that the quality isn’t in the squad. But at the same time, it’s a young squad and it gives us a chance to keep them together. You don’t have that sort of issue of fellas going up and playing (senior) so that helps.”
Kildare, who beat Dublin by 10 points in the minor championship three years ago, were favourites to get the job done on Saturday and, looked all set to deliver.
Bryan Murphy’s Lilies soared 0-9 to 0-2 ahead thanks largely to an exhibition of point scoring from Ben McCormack and Neil Flynn.
But from there on things went slowly downhill for Kildare who were just two ahead at half-time, 0-10 to 1-5, and eventually required a converted 45 from Flynn just to make extra-time.
Cillian O’Shea’s Dublin goal nine minutes into the extra 20 was decisive, set up by O’Callaghan and separating the sides in the end.
O’Shea’s courage summed up Dublin’s performance as he walked off gingerly after a huge hit early on but returned for extra-time.
“The word came that he had to come off,” explained Farrell. “Then the medical team came back to us and said that actually he’s not concussed. If we’d left it another minute, we may not have made the substitution but the substitution was made. It may have worked out because he had a huge intervention when he did come on.
“He took his chance, he did for sure. He’s capable of doing that, we’re very happy with him.”
Defeat was tough on Flynn who scored 10 points, broken up into points in the first and second-halves of both normal and extra-time. Last year, the Kildare senior scored 11 points in the Leinster final but defeat to Dublin was also the outcome. O ’Callaghan hit the same 1-7 tally and, in total, has delivered 2-19 in Dublin’s three-game campaign.
C O’Callaghan (1-7, 5 frees), C O’Shea (1-0), G O’Reilly (0-2), C Basquel, C Sallier, A Foley, B Howard and M Cahilan (0-1 each).
N Flynn (0-10, 3 frees, 3 45s), B McCormack (0-5), P Connell and C Healy (0-1 each).
L Molloy; E Smith, S McMahon, D Monaghan; C O’Shea, B Howard, M Cahilan; A Foley, D McIlgorm; K Deeley, C Basquel, G O’Reilly; C Sallier, C O’Callaghan, D Spillane.
S Clayton for O’Shea (5), A Elliot for McIlgorm (15), E Murchan for Monaghan (h/t), P Small for Spillane (h/t), M Deegan for Elliot (47). O’Shea for Sallier (e/t), K Doherty for O’Reilly (68), Spillane for Murchan (76), T O’Sullivan for Smith (79).
D Campbell; P Mescal, D Maguire, E Bateman; R Houlihan, S Ryan, B Byrne; L Flynn, P Connell; C Kavanagh, C McMonagle, C Hartley; B McCormack, C Healy, N Flynn.
M Hyland for Byrne (30), R Feely for Hartley (38), M Sherry for McMonagle (43), C Scanlan for Healy (54). B Kelly for Scanlan (e/t), Scanlan for McCormack (68), D Malone for Maguire (76), Healy for Feely (79).
J Hickey (Carlow).