Farrell: 'We can't afford to stagnate'
By Cian O'Connell
Dessie Farrell is under no illusions about what lies ahead.
A fifth All Ireland title in a row has been secured and a sixth in seven years by an accomplished collection of Dublin footballers.
When asked what was the most important message the new Dublin manager wanted to convey to the players Farrell provided an interesting reply.
"I think it was to convey a sense of appreciation to those players for what they've done for Dublin football, and a sense of gratitude for their commitment and dedication," Farrell states.
"Also, to convey to them that's what happened now is in the past and that we need to look forward. Looking forward to establish that there will need to be improvement in this squad and in our performances in 2020."
Farrell has already identified that other counties throughout Ireland are making progress. "We can't afford to be complacent, we can't afford to stagnate," Farrell adds.
"The competition out there is getting better and getting stronger. You don't have to look too far. Even within our own province, I think the standard will improve this season.
"Then, obviously, you look at Munster - the trajectory that Kerry are on. They're coming with a full deck, and coming in a big way. Cork put Dublin to the pin of their collar for a long time in that game last year.
"Connacht - new management in Galway, Mayo - we know what Mayo have been doing and they've been knocking on the door.
"And, then, up north, I'm very familiar with that young Donegal side from underage football and, obviously, Tyrone are Tyrone.
"I think 2020 is going to be a very, very interesting season and the big message that I wanted to convey to the lads is that we need to be on our guard, we need to be on our toes and, if there is areas for growth and improvement, we need to identify what those areas are and get on with it."
Considering Dublin's exploits during the past decade the expectation levels are different compared to Farrell's own playing days.
"It is, of course," Farrell says. "We’ve been spoiled in Dublin as supporters and I’ve been a supporter myself the last number of years. It has been unprecedented.
"It definitely was something to consider. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I’ve always taken the approach that, there’s two ways to live your life maybe. One, as a timid soul, sort of year by year, month by month, week by week, possibly even hour by hour, as a timid soul. Or the other is to perhaps do the things that frighten you at times.
"This thing stimulates me, it challenged me. I love football, working with footballers. Ultimately, now is the time that if I didn’t do it now it would probably never come around again."
Has the scale of the success delivered by Dublin since 2011 surprised Farrell? "It does," Farrell remarks. "I’m sure they do it as well, they probably pinch themselves. As mentioned earlier, we’ve been very fortunate in Dublin because I vividly remember the barren years and there was many, many of those.
"That shouldn’t be lost on supporters. I’ll be reminding players of that from time to time. That thing is precious.
"It can move away from you very, very quickly.
“And once it’s gone it may be very hard to get back so there is an onus on us all now at this stage to be acutely aware of that."
Farrell succeeds Jim Gavin, who guided Dublin to six All Ireland victories, and the Na Fianna clubman acknowledges he thought long and hard about taking the role.
"It was a big decision, for sure, it's something that people would say it's sort of a natural evolution having been involved with underage squads, minor teams and under-21s, that type of thing, but still you're moving up into the Premiership here for sure," Farrell comments.
"Just in terms of my own life and family and work and everything else to consider, I did reflect on it a while and spoke to some people.
"The big thing was getting family on side and making sure that they were happy with it because I'm going into this with eyes wide open in terms of the scale of what's involved and the demands that are there.”