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We’ve changed since 2014 championship: Michael Fitzsimons

We’ve changed since 2014 championship: Michael Fitzsimons

Wed, 11th July 2018

Saturday night's SFC clash of Dublin and Donegal in Croke Park (7.0) will be the seventh championship clash between the counties, the most recent being in the 2016 All-Ireland quarter-final.

Dublin have won three of the previous six meetings to Donegal’s two while there was one draw.

As Dublin's senior footballers focus on their opening game of the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals Phase 1 Dublin defender Michael Fitzsimons reflects on the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final loss to Donegal and how it helped shape Jim Gavin's men thereafter.

“Yeah, we learned a huge amount from it. And I remember Cork in 2010 was the same. We learned a huge amount from that as well,” said Michael.

“We just…we had a chance to get to a final and we blew it. We were in a good position until 25 minutes into it but there was so much learning in that game. We had to do a lot of analysis.

“Football has changed a bit since then. And we've probably changed a bit since then. You'd always be wary of stuff like that, of the impact of long kick-outs, of leaving space in certain areas.

“Each game, you try and learn after each win and each loss. But it's easier to learn from the losses. But you definitely learn and it's brought up when you're analysing certain games.

“There was a lot of soul-searching. People had to figure out where they went wrong individually, where we went wrong as a team, at what stages we could have addressed it and what we needed to bring into next year," added the Cuala clubman.

“2015 was a great year then. We addressed the flaws in our game and we got the result at the end of it. But it was a tough end to the summer.”




Dublin reached their seventh All-Ireland SFC semi-final in-a-row following this five-point victory over Donegal in Croke Park in front of a full-house of 82,300.

The Dubs held the upperhand for most of the game but had to battle to the finish following the sendings off of Diarmuid Connolly (45th minute, second yellow), and in the dying minutes Eoghan O'Gara, leaving Donegal with a numerical superiority.

Dublin led 0-9 to 0-4 at the break and it could have been more.

Diarmuid Connolly struck two sublime first half points, one of either foot from long-range, but spurned two first half goal chances which would nearly have had Dublin out of sight by the interval.

The attack was functioning well despite Donegal's defensive tactics with Dean Rock composed on the frees while Paddy Andrews slotted one first half point from a very difficult angle.

Dublin's defence also stood strong with deadball situations Donegal's primary source of scores while Ciarán Kilkenny controlled the tempo of the game from the middle sector.

The Dubs restarted the second half well with the highly influential Kevin McManamon on the mark and soon after Dean Rock converted a free following hard graft by his Ballymun Kickhams club-mate John Small.

Paddy McBrearty replied with a Donegal point before disaster struck for Dublin - a misplaced Cian O'Sullivan foot pass conceded possession and the Ulster men swarmed forward concluding with Ryan McHugh palming the ball to the net.

Suddenly it was a three-point game - 0-11 to 1-5 - despite Dublin's dominance.

Dean Rock steadied Dublin will a fine free before the second whammy to Dublin's chances when Diarmuid Connolly was dismissed in the 45th minute.

With ten minutes of normal time left Kevin McManamon, off his left, pushed Dublin 0-13 to 1-6 clear.

Four minutes earlier Paul Mannion had been introduced as a sub and he was to have a telling impact over the conclusion of the game.

The Kilmacud Crokes man fired a point and late on settled any Dublin nerves with a superb goal and he carved his way through the Donegal defence before sliding the ball low to the net as Dublin's great show of character saw them progress to a meeting with the Kingdom.

SCORERS - Dublin: D Rock 0-5 (0-4f, 0-1 '45'), P Mannion 1-1, K McManamon 0-3, D Connolly 0-2, C Kilkenny, P McMahon, P Andrews, J Cooper 0-1 each. Donegal: M Murphy 0-6 (0-5f, 0-1 '45'), R McHugh 1-0, P McBrearty 0-3 (0-2f), A Thompson 0-1.

DUBLIN: S Cluxton; P McMahon, J Cooper, D Byrne; C Kilkenny, C O'Sullivan, J Small; B Fenton, MD Macauley; P Flynn, K McManamon, D Connolly; D Rock, P Andrews, B Brogan. Subs: D Daly for Brogan (48 mins), D Bastick for Macauley (53), P Mannion for Andrews (56), E O'Gara for McManamon (68), E Lowndes for Rock (73), M Fitzsimnons for Fenton (bc, 76).

DONEGAL: M McGinley; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; R McHugh, K Lacey, F McGlynn; R Kavanagh, O MacNiallais;A Thompson, M McElhinney, E McHugh; P McBrearty, M Murphy, M O'Reilly. Subs: C Gillespie for MacNiallais (ht), L McCloone for Kavanagh (42), C Toye for Thomson (46), C Thompson for McElhinney (61), C McFadden for Lacey (71).

REF: C Branagan (Down).




Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown in Gaelic football as Dublin's bid to retain the Sam Maguire ground to a halt in this All-Ireland SFC semi-final at Croke Park.

Dublin held a five-point advantage at two stages of the opening half but the concession of a 33rd minute goal when Ryan McHugh was in the right place at the right time from a Donegal perspective rocked the Dubs who trailed 1-8 to 0-9 at the break.

The Dubs had played some superb football in the 30 minutes with some outstanding long-range scoretaking from Paul Flynn, Diarmuid Connolly and Philly McMahon.

Dublin lead 0-7 to 0-2 after 17 minutes and were very much in the driving seat and dictating the tempo of the game.

Ultimately Dublin were left to rue a couple of missed goal-scoring opportunities in the first half with Bernard Brogan and Connolly both failing to convert.

By 26 minutes Dublin led 0-9 to 0-4 following an exceptional Connolly point but from then to the break Donegal held the upperhand with sub Christy Toye central to Donegal's play.

McHugh, Odhrán Mac Niallais and Michael Murphy pointed before a high delivery into the Dublin square eventually resulted in McHugh blasting to the net.

Four minutes into the second half Donegal exploited the space in front of the Dublin full-back line when he ghosted inside the cover to apply the finishing touch to the net following good counter-attack play by Eamonn McGee and Anthony Thompson.

Points from Bernard and Alan Brogan cut the deficit but Dublin's uphill task was made almost impossible when Colm McFadden scored his side's third goal with 24 minutes remaining to give Donegal a 3-10 to 0-12 cushion.

Two Bernard Brogan frees and another gem from Connolly saw Dublin reduce the gap but Donegal's defence ensured they were going to deprive the Dubs of a goal as the Ulster men booked their berth in the final against Kerry.

SCORERS - Donegal: R McHugh 2-2, C McFadden 1-3 (0-2f), M Murphy 0-3 (2f), P McBrearty 0-2, K Lacey, R Kavanagh, O Mac Niallais, F McGlynn 0-1 each. Dublin: D Connolly 0-5 (0-1f), P Flynn 0-4, B Brogan 0-3 (1f), A Brogan, P Andrews 0-2 each, P McMahon 0-1.

DONEGAL: P Durcan; N McGee, E McGee, P McGrath; A Thompson, K Lacey, F McGlynn; O Mac Niallais, R Kavanagh; David Walsh, L McLoone, R McHugh; C McFadden, M Murphy, N Gallagher. Subs: C Toye for Walsh (27), P McBrearty for McLoone (43), Declan Walsh for N McGee (black card, 58), M McElhinney for Kavanagh (60), D O’Connor for McFadden (64), M O’Reilly for Mac Niallais (70).

DUBLIN: S Cluxton; P McMahon, R O’Carroll, M Fitzsimons; J McCaffrey, J Cooper, J McCarthy; MD Macauley, C O’Sullivan; P Flynn, A Brogan, D Connolly; C Costello, E O’Gara, B Brogan.Subs: N Devereux for McCaffrey (ht), K McManamon for Costello (41), D Rock for O’Gara (48), P Andrews for A Brogan (53), D Daly for Cooper (62), P Mannion for O’Sullivan (68).

REF: J McQuillan (Cavan).

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