Farrell eyes redemption

Dubs' minor boss expects major challenge from Meath but believes character of Blues can heal the wounds of 2011

Rnn Mac Lochlainn

DUBLIN will aim to claim their 11th national title when they face old rivals Meath in the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship Final in Croke Park next Sunday (1.15).

The all-Leinster tie is attributed added resonance given the sides came face-to-face just over two months ago, with Dublin availing of an impressive first-half showing to claim a deserved 12-point win.

Written off in many quarters as a consequence of that result, Meath have shown traditional fight and ability in recording comeback wins over both Tyrone and Mayo, and their inability to accept defeat highlights the threat they possess, according to Dublin manger Dessie Farrell.

"In many ways, this is a completely new game from the Leinster final and it has no relevance to how Sunday will go. Their wins over Tyrone and Mayo highlighted their doggedness and spirit and they are a worthy and dangerous opponent," said the Na Fianna clubman.

"They have improved from that Leinster final defeat and I said at the time that was in no way a true reflection of their abilities as I just think we caught them on an off-day.

"We scored a fortuitous goal through Cormac Costello in the first-half that appeared to take the wind from their sails somewhat, and sometimes a goal like that can have a profound effect on teams, especially at this level.

"By coming from behind in the quarter-final and semi-final, they've shown they are made of sterner stuff and I wouldn't expect either side to run away with the game on Sunday."

Naturally, while respectful of that trait traditionally associated with Meath, Farrell has paid tribute to his own panel's temperament as he assesses Dublin's second successive minor final, following last year's heartbreaking final defeat by Tipperary.

The Dubs may have registered six high-scoring wins en route to the final, but the character they showed in dealing with Kildare's challenge in the provincial semi-final in Newbridge earlier this summer offers the 1995 All-Star genuine grounds for optimism should his prediction of a tight affair be realised.

"I have been very encouraged by the character of our panel all year.

"An awful lot of what they have been through has been character-building and that was especially evident when we played Kildare.

"Some teams may have struggled after dominating a half only to concede a poor goal just on half-time to level up the game.

"But they delivered when it mattered in the second-half against the wind, and that speaks volumes for the type of player we have involved in the panel," he said.

Of course, Dublin's cause has been helped by a relatively injury-free campaign and Farrell is optimistic of selecting from the perspective of a clean bill of health on Friday evening.

That has allowed continuity to develop as the campaign has evolved and the importance of a settled team is not lost on the Dublin manager.

"From the outset, there has been very little change in both our defence and midfield and that has definitely helped in terms of the development of the panel.

"We've been tinkering around a bit in the forwards when we've been trying out new things but thankfully none of that has been forced on us.

"Understanding is a huge aspect in football, at all levels, and it should lead to greater levels of consistency.

"Unfortunately, it doesn't guarantee you anything as we were in a similar situation last year is terms of consistency of selection and, to our great disappointment, it wasn't enough to get the job done," concluded Farrell.