herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Gavin's Dubs to return with gusto

John Caffrey vital part of Heffo's box of tricks

JOHN CAFFREY is upstairs in Parnell Park. He pulls a little red box out of his pocket.

It's years since he looked inside. It contains his 1983 All-Ireland medal.....and his wedding ring!

"The wife got a big surprise when I told her where the wedding ring was all these years," he smiles.

On Sunday, he'll watch his daughter, Leah, play for Dublin in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football final in Croke Park.

There's a year between his two daughters, Leah and Aoife. "They were both born on Bank Holiday Monday. "It was very considerate of the wife. There was free parking outside the Rotunda!"

In his playing days, the car John most resembled was a Rover. He was the original third midfielder. He has seen the sport change. "I first came onto the Dublin squad in 1979. I was a school-teacher, so I had the summer off.

CONDITIONING

"I said to Kevin Heffernan will I join a gym. He said are you joking. Get a job on a building site!

"The biggest change is the conditioning of the players. It's just a different culture altogether. Now everybody is in the gym, both boys and girls. And from an early age.

"So much thought goes into it, but at the end of the day football is still football."

He remembers the Heff with fondness. "The spirit under Kevin was just fantastic. Nobody was bigger than the team. It's the same today with the Dublin side.

"Kevin's emphasis was that you were going out to do a job of work. You could enjoy it later.

"The 1983 was special in its own way. We had three fellas sent off and we just hung in there. It mightn't have been the most glorious final, but it was a hard one to win."

John predicts that Jim Gavin's team will be back better than ever. "What Jim has done is phenomenal. They were caught out on the one day. It's just one of those things that happens. Vital lessons will be learned.

"Dublin were scoring points from everywhere. But in the second half, you are trying to kick points under pressure.

"A bit like the golfer putting to win the ten million."

He's looking forward to Sunday. "The wife, Bernie, gets very nervous. She makes me nervous."

But maybe not as bad as on Bank Holiday Mondays!

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