By Rory Houston - @RTESundayGame
Dublin captain Bryan Cullen has described Diarmuid Connolly’s red card in Sunday’s All-Ireland Football Championship semi-final as harsh as Pat Gilroy faces the reality of missing their influential forward for the decider with Kerry next month.
Connolly was sent off for striking a Donegal player in a heated incident in the final quarter of the game in Croke Park that could have led to more than one dismissal.
Cullen said: “I was very disappointed to be honest. I was more concerned with how he was converged on after winning the free and three Donegal players charged into him.
“I felt he was just shoving one out of the way, I don’t know what the referee or linesman saw but it seemed harsh to me.”
The red card actually signalled an upturn in fortunes for the Dubs as they had their most productive spell in the game around the time of the dismissal and Donegal’s stern defence was finally breached on a consistent basis.
Cullen said it was an extremely difficult task for the Dubs throughout the game: “It was very tough. It was probably very disappointing for the spectators as well but we tried our best to play as much football as we could. It was just very difficult in the circumstances in the way Donegal set themselves up.
“We felt if we moved the ball quickly they might struggle to get back in numbers. They really played with two extra defenders and it wasn’t that until we started moving through the hand and taking on defenders that we had a bit more joy.”
Dublin can now look forward to a first All-Ireland final appearance in 16 years and will try to topple favourites Kerry in the decider.
The Dublin captain said: “It is a great place to be. When you start off on this journey at the start of the year an All-Ireland final seems a long way away.
“We showed good form in the league, with a bit of a blip in the final, but we knew if we carried the consistency into the Championship we would be there or thereabout and thankfully we have made our first final in God knows how many years.
“It is something you to think about when you’re growing up and when you start playing for Dublin it is something you have one eye on. I’m looking forward to it.
“It is something great for my club Skerries Harps too as we don’t get a huge amount of county representatives so it is great for the area as well.”