Saturday 17 March 2018

We proved that we still have desire - Rock

Dean Rock in Parnell Park yesterday to help Life Style Sports launch the new PUMA Evo Touch Pro football boot Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Dean Rock in Parnell Park yesterday to help Life Style Sports launch the new PUMA Evo Touch Pro football boot Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It was only when Dublin were forced to go to the well that they'd know what was in it. If years of winning had dulled their enthusiasm or softened their edge, then Saturday night was surely the place it would be shown. Five points down on a bitterly cold night and without some of their prize fighters, Dublin could have gone away.

That they didn't, Dean Rock says, shows that their desire to win remains as strong as ever.

"I had no doubt that if we were in that position, we would dig ourselves out of it," said Rock.

"It's only when you go the well you know what is going to come out of it. Everyone dug in when it really mattered, and you can see in the last ten or 12 minutes with the pace we were playing at and really going after it that it wasn't an issue in terms of mindset.

"Lads really wanted to win. It doesn't matter what time of the year it is, everyone is competitive individually and collectively.

"We don't like losing, we want to go out and represent the jersey well, and that means getting wins.

"We were lucky enough not to lose the other night but we were proud of ourselves in terms of how we came out and battled in the last five or ten minutes."

Rock's levelling free, a tremendous kick considering the conditions, ensured Dublin's unbeaten run stretched to 31 games. And he insisted that they will only get better.

"Tyrone are probably a month or two ahead of us in terms of fitness and games under the belt in the McKenna Cup but it really was down to grit and determination for that last couple of minutes," he said.

"We weren't happy with the first 60 minutes only scoring five or six points and we knew that we needed to up it for the last couple of minutes. A few messages went out to the group. Individually players just talked to players on the pitch - 'let's up it' and things like that - and we managed to respond to it.

"That was the most pleasing thing, our response to that challenge. Mentally everyone is in a good place and, yeah, it was reassuring."

Tyrone have long been flagged as having the game to pose Dublin problems and there were signs of that on Saturday night.

Even allowing for the horrendous conditions, Dublin's tally of just four points from play on was low. Before Mark Bradley's dismissal, Dublin had managed just four points and Rock's saved penalty aside, didn't get a clear look at Niall Morgan's goal.

The Ballymun man agrees that the Red Hands are a difficult puzzle to solve.

"They're very good," he said. "Our philosophy is attacking and trying to get guys off the shoulder. Obviously Tyrone, they play attacking football in different ways, in terms of counter-attacking football. It is very defensive but we've come up against it numerous times before and it's a challenge we kind of enjoy.

"We analyse opposition and see how we can beat the blanket defence as such. It was nothing new for us but they're probably a few steps ahead of most in terms of how to play that system and they're very effective at it.

"They'll be very hard to beat whoever they play from now on through the League and Championship."

And while Rock insists that the squad don't mull over their unbeaten run, he says they won't be giving it up without a fight.


"There's great character amongst the squad," he said. "Any time you get to put on the Dublin jersey everyone wants to do well. Lads aren't just happy just to put on the jersey. Everyone wants to go out and play really, really well and play great for the team.

"When you have that kind of character amongst the squad it breeds that resolve that we have when you're a couple of points down with a couple of minutes left to drag out a draw in the end.

"It's a huge positive for us. We're only really back into the groove for the last three or four weeks but the main thing you want from teams at this stage of the season is mindset, and we had that in bucket loads the other night in terms of our character."

Irish Independent

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