STRENGTH OF CHARACTER CLINCHES FINAL DESTINATION
IT’S new, it’s different and it’s exciting to be playing inter county football into the month of September. We’ve waited a long time and have worked very hard for this.
The semi-final was the strangest game I’ve ever played in. But the win over Donegal was a real chance for us to show how much we have improved and developed as a team.
I think it’s a match that we would probably have lost up until quite recently.
Donegal were excellent at frustrating us and their effective game plan hit us hard.
But the key to victory was a level of patience, discipline, composure under pressure and self belief that we have worked hard to bring into our game.
We knew what Donegal were going to try and do and we knew we had to back ourselves to stay in the game and come through that storm and then when they ran out of a bit of steam that we’d have the ability to take our chances when the game opened up.
We had confidence in our ability to stick to our game plan under intense pressure and believe that we would be able to have the final say. In other years that wouldn’t have been the case and we would have got nervous when the match was so tight and we were still behind well into the second half.
What was most pleasing about the win was that we showed a strength of character that has been questioned by pundits in the past.
We stuck to the game plan and continued to work hard as we have done all year and when the chances came we made the most of them and the reward is a first All-Ireland final in 16 years. No one on the squad got carried away afterwards. Having to sit exams all last week kept my mind off footbal but I think everyone knows that there is more work to do and it’s not time to sit back and pat ourselves on the back.
It’s great news that Diarmuid Connolly has successfully appealed his red card. I think anyone who saw the incident would feel that the red card was harsh and would not be serious enough to keep a player out of the biggest game of his career. Diarmuid has had a great season and it would have been awful for him to miss out on the final. But that said, I always felt that if he was unlucky not to have his appeal upheld, the evidence from training is that we have players like Kevin McManamon, Mossy Quinn and Eoghan O’Gara who are fully capable of making the step up and delivering.
Getting to an All-Ireland final is brilliant but we are not satisfied with just being here. We know Kerry will be a very serious test with all of their experience, but there’s no point being in a final if you don’t intend to have a go at winning it.
Hard work has been a philosophy that we have stuck rigidly to all year and after getting the media night, the open night with supporters and a lot of the sideshows out of the way early, we’ve cleared a path to put the head down and focus and work hard on being ready for September 18.
Dublin fans can read regular blog updates from acclaimed GAA journalist Cian Murphy, check out player profiles and follow matches on the Live Match Tracker on the Vodafone DubHub