Monday 24 October 2016

Pillar Caffrey: The Dubs have six days to put things right

Euphoric Mayo reaction to last Sunday's comeback draw may well work in Dublin's favour says former blues boss Caffrey

Denis Bastick, right, and Philip McMahon, Dublin, in action against Aidan O'Shea, Mayo. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Dublin v Mayo, Croke Park,
Denis Bastick, right, and Philip McMahon, Dublin, in action against Aidan O'Shea, Mayo. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Dublin v Mayo, Croke Park,
Dublin manager Jim Gavin, right, shakes hands with Mayo joint manager Noel Connelly after the game.

SIX days to recover, repair, regroup.

Six days of introspection, analysis and probably, appeals.

Six days for Jim Gavin to get Dublin right in the head again after the blunt force trauma of last Sunday's late carnage.

"With a short turnaround, it's not necessarily about what you think. It's about what the players think," says Pillar Caffrey, who made his Dublin managerial debut as a stand-in for the hospitalised Tommy Lyons in the 2002 All-Ireland quarter-final replay against Donegal.

"They will know how close they were to another All-Ireland final.

"While there's a feeling of euphoria around Mayo's comeback, that's fine. That's for them to deal with.

"Dublin are disappointed but they're chomping at the bit.

"This," Caffrey surmises, "is not going to do Dublin any harm whatsoever in terms of their intention of winning the All-Ireland.

"Sometimes, if you feel you left it behind you, you can be more driven. As opposed to feeling elated.

"With that final 10 minutes that Mayo put in, it felt for them if they won and felt for Dublin like a loss.

"And despite what people say, I think that's a good thing for Dublin."

Six days for their captain to unscramble his thoughts again after an uncharacteristically harum-scarum Sunday afternoon?

"Stephen Cluxton is, as far as I'm concerned, the greatest 'keeper every to play Gaelic football," Caffrey insists.

"People have very short memories if they're giving out about Stephen Cluxton this week. He sets standards in goalkeeping and Dublin had no midfield for that last sequence of play.

"What was he to do? He was trying to be inventive with his kick-outs, one of them went astray and they got a point from it.

"OK, Stephen will know that he was casual with the ball that Andy Moran took off him but that didn't cost Dublin the game. John Small saved it on the line.

"Stephen Cluxton is a very serious individual. He'll be fine come Saturday."

Diarmuid Connolly might not be there at all on Saturday and if there exists some sympathy for the blatant and intense provocation he took from Lee Keegan on Sunday, there's no rule to clear him by the same reason.

"At the end of the day, we're putting out humans. They're normal blokes. They're not robots," Caffrey stresses.

"They have emotions.

"I saw a picture this morning of Diarmuid Connolly being held by the throat. Your natural reaction in that situation is to push away.


"Two players grappling on the ground. Your natural reaction is 'hang on, I'm not going to get choked here.'

"In terms of provocation and teams teasing you and testing you to cross the line, it's very high stakes. And small margins."

Maybe Dublin could do without the unnecessary attention attracted by a high-stakes appeal process. Maybe it could deflect from the way they finished last Sunday's match or how Gavin might remedy that ailment next Saturday.

"That will be handled behind the scenes," Caffrey explains.

"Jim will have very little involvement in that process.

"The county board would be extremely experienced and God be good to him, but Davy Billings would be invaluable in he was around.

"That process will take care of itself. And Jim will have parked that. He'll have spoken to Diarmuid Connolly already and told him to get ready to play.

"To get his head right and his body right. That's the approach he'll take there."

He might not be the only player in danger of missing next Saturday but Caffrey reckons the focus of the aftermath was skewed against Dublin.

"There was only man to get a serious injury out of that game and that was Rory O'Carroll," he points out, "and there was no public outcry against Cillian O'Connor.

"If a man goes off and get 10 or 11 stitches, it has to be a substantial clash and it wasn't a post he ran into."

"The black card was brought in to punish cynicism," Caffrey adds.

"Attacking half-backs and half-forward are the ones particularly vulnerable to cynicism.

"You look at Jack McCaffrey. Every time he went to make a run, somebody is tagging him, whether it's illegal or legal.

"While the ref had an unenviable task refereeing it, it appeared in the last 10 or 15 minutes of the game - between the 65th minute, when Dublin dried up with their scores, and the 75th minute - an inordinate amount of big calls went against Dublin in that time."

Which doesn't explain quite how or why Dublin melted from the 64th minute until the dramatic final whistle.

"I think Jim is going to have to be quite inventive this week. He can't just roll out the same template," Caffrey reckons.


"Is Alan Brogan going to start? I thought he showed great maturity and great calmness when he came onto the field.

"He was willing to get onto the ball and take the easy option and play smart football when Dublin were struggling.

"So Jim is going to have to make big calls this week in terms of his personnel."



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