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Friday 2 December 2016

Paddy's Day long time in coming for Andrews

After early setbacks with Dublin Andrews is now one of the stars

Dublin forward Paddy Andrews
Dublin forward Paddy Andrews

You wouldn't have guessed it judging by the luxury of his performance against Mayo two Saturdays back but Dublin and Paddy Andrews haven't always been the most natural dance partners.

As Barry Cahill surmises "he's had a difficult career with Dublin" and in this, his St Brigid's clubmate's only possible error is in understatement.

To recap.

On January 4 of 2009, Andrews was somewhat curiously selected at corner-back in the DCU team to play Laois in the first round of the O'Byrne Cup in a match in Portarlington won by Niall Moyna's student team.

He kept Ross Munnelly to a point from play. The thing snowballed.

DCU were beaten by Louth in that year's final but Andrews was arguably their best player in a position he had no significant experience at any grade or level.

And so along with Denis Bastick and Davy Henry, Andrews - then a 21 year old - was one of the square pegs Pat Gilroy tried to fit into the round holes of his full-back line in 2009 after Rory O'Carroll decided to follow up his senior inter-county debut with a summer-long holiday in South East Asia.

The rest is massacre.

"He played well on Alan Smith in the Leinster final," Cahill recalls.

"But a month later we obviously had the collapse against Kerry. Paddy was on Colm Cooper that day and didn't have the best of days….

"It's funny," Cahill notes. "Paddy actually laughs at that day when people bring it up with him. I think he claims that Colm Cooper scored 1-25 off him that day!

Trauma

"That was probably the end of his defensive days."

Not though, the end of his Dublin days.

Yet.

The second trauma Andrews would suffer wasn't quite so spectacular but easily more damaging.

In 2011, Gilroy's reconstructed team continued a recently acquired habit and won six of seven league games to make that year's final against Cork in Croke Park.

With Alan Brogan suspended and having lost both Bernard Brogan and Diarmuid Connolly to injury in a match Dublin were winning by eight points, they imploded.

Andrews came off the bench.

Cork, then All-Ireland champions and a pretty experienced, gnarled outfit, reeled off point after point.

Dublin couldn't stop the leak but more damagingly, they scored jus two points in the last half hour.

In a pretty raw press conference afterwards, Gilroy conceded: "We weren't strong enough at the end of the game today.

"Even though we did create chances, our finishing could have been so much better.

"We didn't finish with a very strong team in comparison to them today. We learned a lot about our resources. There were guys that played and guys that came on that were maybe a bit shy of this level."

Whether he numbered Andrews amongst the inadequate, we'll never know.

But it was to be the last time he played for Dublin that year.

"He got dropped off the panel and we went on to win the All-Ireland," Cahill recalls. "He missed out on 2011 but I always feel Dublin are better with him in it.

"We had a really good run that year. We won the Dublin championship and got to the Leinster club final and he was outstanding in that game and that put him back in the shop window again.

"When Jim Gavin was appointed he was delighted because he would have worked with Jim at U21s and would have felt that Jim was a believer in Paddy as a footballer and he knew, going into 2013, that it was a case of now or never.

"He had a really good year in 2013 helping Dublin win the All-Ireland he know with Jim there, he always felt that if he was injury free and playing well that he had a pretty good chance of starting.

"He's had a difficult career with Dublin, he hasn't always been a starter and been in and out of the team.

"I think others around him benefit.

"From Jim's point of view he can fill all six positions in that he can do the donkey work as a wing-forward, he can play inside as part of a two-man full-forward line.

Clinical

"But I think his best position is off the front two as a link between 11 and 14.

"He gets on a lot of ball. What impressed me the last day was how clinical he was.

"He did a bit of damage on Keith Higgins which doesn't happen too often.

"He's kicked 10 points from play in the last three games. Which is serious going.

"So I think maybe Eamonn Fitzmaurice wouldn't have been overly focused on him going into the final up until last Saturday," Cahill concludes, "but he'll probably have to do a bit more homework on him now."

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