Dessie Farrell dipped his toes into senior inter-county management for the first time yesterday when an experimental Dublin side fell to a 1-13 to 3-6 defeat to Longford in the O’Byrne Cup semi-final.
With mass media attention circling the game, column inches got what they wanted as Farrell made 23 substitutions during the game while referee Alan Coyne needed an escort when departing the field after the game.
With Longford progressing to a final meeting with Offaly, it’s back to the training pitch for Dublin who will welcome back the vast majority of their five-in-a-row winners to collective training next week.
One area they are sure to be working on ahead of their league opener against Kerry are the rule changes that came into effect at the start of the year, particularly the advanced mark.
The new rule has become the most talked-about (on-field) issue in Gaelic football over the past year with opinions divided on how successful it will be.
Speaking at his first media briefing on Friday, Farrell claimed they haven’t discussed the new rules as of yet. The Na Fianna man is curious to see how they will work out but admitted concerns around the advanced mark.
“As a group, we haven’t discussed the new rules,” said Farrell.
“From my personal opinion, I am just curious to see how they will work out. I am concerned about the advanced mark. I can understand the rationale behind it but then when you look at last year’s championship, particularly the business end of it, the games were fantastic and very attack-oriented games.”
Farrell continued by saying that he feels the advanced mark may end up being counter-intuitive.
“I am just concerned that what they are trying to achieve with this advance mark may end up being counter-intuitive… that you could as a result of it end up deploying more personnel and defenders in that space to protect the goals and I don’t think that was the rationale or reasoning in the first instance.
“It may not work out that way. From what I have been hearing and reading it has been pretty inconsequential, the advanced mark, to date.
“But I am just concerned that if a team really goes after it and tries to exploit it as a new development in the game it could very quickly change other teams views as to how you defend it or try and work with this. And it could end up attracting more bodies back into defence.
“Now. I could be totally wrong there.”
Dublin struggled during the Allianz League last year with teams like Monaghan and Tyrone exploiting the then-experimental advanced mark rule en route to victories over the All-Ireland champions.
It was clear to all that Jim Gavin’s side hadn’t experimented themselves with the advanced mark as it was not going to be in place for the championship and their pursuit of five-in-a-row.
However, they cannot afford to ignore it this year and Farrell is aware of that.
“Well we definitely need to give it a lot of consideration,” he said.
“I know when it was introduced last time the lads didn’t spend a lot of time on it because it wasn’t part of the championship. But it is definitely something we have to work on the training ground for sure.”
Will it be a success? Only time will tell.