An outstanding trait of Dessie Farrell’s managerial style is the “real care and compassion” he shows to players, according to Dublin footballer Con O’Callaghan.
The five-time All-Ireland winner has said the Dublin manager is excellent at connecting with players and letting them know they are appreciated, O’Callaghan outlining how Farrell phoned him the day before a game to tell the forward what he means to the group.
When Farrell succeeded Jim Gavin as Dublin senior manager, O’Callaghan believes the players who lined out under Farrell at development squad level, minor, and U21 were motivated to give back to the incoming boss.
“I had Dessie for two years at U21 and can safely speak for probably everyone who played under him, he kinda fostered a relationship with a lot of lads where there was compassion and real care for the players.
“He’s really big on that care piece. He has pretty deep relations with a lot of the players that he managed from a very young age,” O’Callaghan observed.
“What he is quite good at is continuously showing that care or recognising when people do selfless acts. He lets you know that you are appreciated, even if it is a call the day before the game, saying what you mean to the group and what you mean to him even.
“He is very good at connecting with people. Like, I have a really close connection with himself and forwards coach Mick Galvin. It probably does show itself on the pitch in those tight moments — that lads are really willing to go to the well for each other and for the management.”
Having experienced nothing other than Sam Maguire success since joining the Dublin panel in 2016, O’Callaghan’s awareness of what he has achieved was reinforced last week when seeing a quartet of long-serving Mayo players step away without an All-Ireland medal to show for their efforts.
“When we were doing this [PwC player of the month] event, Richie Hogan rang me up and we had a chat. He was saying he had something like seven All-Irelands by the age of 27 and hasn’t seen one since.
“So, it’s funny how things can really dry up. I definitely am very aware that I’ve been blessed with the times that I’ve had with Dublin. Seeing those [Mayo] lads go, it’s obviously difficult, but I know that we are lucky.”
On the uncertainty surrounding the return to collective training at the beginning of next month and the scheduled League throw-in date of February 27/28, the two-time All-Star remarked: “We will just follow whatever [public health and the GAA] say. But it did work last year and if it can be run off in a safe manner like that, then happy days.”
Meanwhile, Ulster GAA secretary Brian McAvoy has expressed opposition to the proposal to flip the League and provincial football championships, whereby the provincial competitions would be run off in springtime and become decoupled from the All-Ireland series.
“Doing this would devalue the provincial championships. When the Ulster SHC became decoupled from the Liam McCarthy Cup series, it effectively lost its prestige and was no longer treated with the same relevance by players and supporters alike. I fear the same would happen to the Ulster SFC if this proposal was to be adopted,” McAvoy wrote in his annual report.
McAvoy “strongly favours” the proposal to redraw the provinces into four equal groups of eight, along with a preliminary round in both Leinster and Ulster to determine which counties move across to Connacht and Munster.
“There are many positives to this option. One is that every county will be guaranteed at least one home championship game each year and another is that each county is also guaranteed a minimum of four championship games. This can only but improve standards and is preferable to the current Super 8 fixtures where only the stronger counties get additional games.”
Elsewhere, two-time All-Ireland winning Kilkenny camogie player Anne Dalton has retired from the inter-county scene.