Dublin Under-21 football manager Dessie Farrell has denied that his players have pulled out of club championship action in order to concentrate on their forthcoming All-Ireland final.
It was reported on Thursday morning that the young Dubs had made the call not to play for their clubs in this weekend’s first round of Senior Football Championship games in the capital.
This was supposedly in reaction to the Dublin Competitions Control Committee’s (CCC) decision not to move the first round games despite the All-Ireland Under-21 football final against Galway on Saturday week, April 29.
But Farrell has dismissed the notion that the players pulled out and actually watched some of them in action for their clubs on Thursday night.
“I don’t know where that came from,” he said, speaking to RTÉ Sport. “We will have lads playing all over the place this weekend.
“We are trying to manage the situation as best we can and clubs have been very supportive, leaving out players where possible. It’s a mixed bag – some have to play because their clubs are facing tough assignments.
“It’s far from ideal, but we will keep our fingers crossed that everyone comes through it alright. The last games are on Saturday so we plan to get together again on Sunday to regroup and refocus,” added Farrell.
The former Dublin star admits he was disappointed that the CCC didn’t call off the club games in order to allow the Under-21s to concentrate on their big day.
Shane Clayton, one of Farrell’s panel, started for 2016 All-Ireland club champions Ballyboden St Enda’s in their first round defeat to St Oliver Plunkett’s-Eoghan Ruadh at Parnell Park on Saturday and when he went off injured he was replaced by Dublin Under-21 team mate Colm Basquel.
Following the weather-enforced fixture backlog in the Ulster Under-21 Football Championship, Donegal had asked through Croke Park for their semi-final against the Dubs to be put back, but the Dublin County Board said that they couldn’t as their club fixture programme was set in stone.
Whether or not they were willing to move those club games back to facilitate their own Under-21s in the All-Ireland is now moot as the stance they took with Donegal meant they had little choice but to play them.
“We thought the games might be postponed as they were in 2014 (Dublin’s last Under-21 All-Ireland win) and there was a lot of discussion since the weekend,” explained Farrell.
“But the games are going ahead so we just have to get on with it – it’s business as usual.”
Farrell says that some players approached their clubs asking for understanding and this has resulted in a number of players either being left on the bench at the start of games, only be to be used if needed, or stood down completely.
In 2011, adult GAA in Dublin almost ground to a standstill with the county’s teams making All-Ireland finals in senior and minor football, minor and…