Dublin manager Dessie Farrell spoke about the decision of Diarmuid Connolly to retire from inter-county duty, and accepts it if a player’s heart is no longer in it.
BY SHANE STAPLETON
Dessie Farrell understands that if your heart isn’t in it, it’s time to move on.
The Dublin manager was asked about the recent departure of Diarmuid Connolly from the scene, and accepted that the St Vincent’s man would be a loss.
Jack McCaffrey previously decided to step away from the panel, while a number of veteran stars — Bernard Brogan, Darren Daly and Eoghan O’Gara — also retired from inter-county duty.
The Dubs were back in action after seven and a half months on Saturday night, beating neighbours Meath by four points at Parnell Park.
Dean Rock stole the show with 1-8, while Con O’Callaghan and Ciaran Kilkenny were scoring threats when supplied with good ball.
“We definitely spoke,” says Farrell of his interactions with Connolly. “It’s the same for all our players.
“There’s been a number that have left and have decided to move on.
“We treat each and every one of them the same – if your heart isn’t in it or you think it’s time for you to move on
“We 100% respect that decision and encourage them to do what’s right by them and follow their heart.
“That’s always important to us as a group. It’s no different in a family, if someone wants to head away or emigrate you have to give them your blessing.
“That was the case with Diarmuid and he did it with a bit of class as he always does.
“Sure, he’s going to be a loss and there have been other losses but there are also other opportunities for new players, the likes of (corner-back) Cian Murphy tonight who was a great example.”
The return of Gaelic games at club seemed to lift the mood of the nation, but the wind seems to have changed course in recent weeks.
The lack of social distancing at some matches, post-match celebrations, and the rising case numbers across the island have all added to the mood.
Leitrim were unable to send out a team to play against Down on Saturday, while Fermamagh’s panel was decimated ahead of today’s trip to Clare.
“Yeah it is,” Farrell says. “But I think players by their nature are resilient anyway.
“You’ve just got to compartmentalise it and they’re aware of it, it’s in the back of their head.
“They do all that they can to be vigilant to protect themselves and their families and we’re very conscious of that.
“They’ve been great from that perspective to work with.
“This doubt hangs over you constantly but there’s nothing you can do except embrace it and be grateful for every day you get to come and play a game.
“That uncertainty was out there for sure.
“I tell ya, it’s a lot better position to be in than we were at the start of lockdown when we thought everything was gone for the year.
“You just get on with it, make do and embrace what comes your way.
“We’re just delighted to be back at this stage.”
Rock was exceptional once more, building on the form that helped Ballymun Kickhams regain the Dublin SFC title this season, and the forward’s tally allowed him to become the county’s highest-ever scorer.
“Big night for Dean, he played very well. Obviously his run with Ballymun Kickhams in the championship served him well and he looked sharp which was great.”
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