Niall Scully of Dublin poses for a portrait during the launch of the GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Series in Dublin.
Niall Scully of Dublin poses for a portrait during the launch of the GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Series in Dublin.

Humble Dublin learned a lot from League disappointment


By John Harrington

Niall Scully believes Dublin’s humbling Allianz Football League campaign that saw them relegated from Division 1 has been the key to their Championship renaissance.

This year’s Leinster title success was one of their most emphatic yet as they won their three matches against Wexford, Meath, and Kildare by an average of 17 points.

The disappointment of being relegated has clearly lit a fire under Dessie Farrell’s team.

“I think just the way we performed was more disappointing than how it ended up,” says Scully.

“We got a lot of time then for reflection that kind of made us humble. We probably weren't as good as we thought we were maybe and over the last few weeks we had to look at that.

“I think it's looking back at the performances as well and trying to understand, trying to understand what had went wrong on the pitch and obviously what the internal motivation is for the individual as well.

“We always have and had the quality in the team. That's just about trying to bring that up to the top of the surface and to get us all back on the same wavelength.

“I think kind of looking at the National League campaign it was probably just a bit more slow than what we're going after now. I think a huge factor as well is obviously the weather gets better so it might allow you to play that faster football and looking to kick more and be more direct.”

Lorcan O'Dell of Dublin celebrates with the Delaney Cup after the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Kildare at Croke Park in Dublin.
Lorcan O'Dell of Dublin celebrates with the Delaney Cup after the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Kildare at Croke Park in Dublin.

Dublin’s League campaign wasn’t helped by injuries to key personnel but that meant that Dessie Farrell had to blood a lot of new players. Short-term pain may have ultimately led to long-term gain because the panel is looking a lot stronger now than it did last year.

“I think it's something that needed to be done and it's probably come to the front now,” agrees Scully.

“We had Lorcan O'Dell starting for the last two games, we had Lee Gannon starting for the last two days so I think getting the young blood in for the National League was something we had to do and try to create a competitive environment in training sessions

“You're always going to need that and that's down to an individual basis and understanding that and acknowledging it. Inter-county football now is a 35- or 40-man game. You need the competitiveness in the internal games and in every training session.”

Ironically, Scully has found himself relegated to the bench by the emergence of O’Dell, but he’s in no way resentful. Instead, he’s viewing the greater competition for a starting jersey as a challenge to be embraced.

“Ah look, I'd be the first one to put my hand up, I'm absolutely delighted for him and I think he's done extremely well over the last two games as well,” he says of O’Dell.

“For me, all I can do is go to training and put my hand up and put my best foot forward. I wouldn't be wishing that it's me or him or anything like that.

“I think for me it's something new, something exciting. Like you said, it's probably not a position I've faced before but it gives me something to look forward to every time I'm stepping out into training. But definitely it kind of excites me more than it daunts me.”