Sunday 19 January 2020

'Jim and Dessie have their own styles'

Clayton gunning for a second crack with Dublin once Ballyboden's All-Ireland odyssey ends

Shane Clayton is concentrating on Ballyboden St Enda’s AIB All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final against Kilcoo of Down at the moment
Shane Clayton is concentrating on Ballyboden St Enda’s AIB All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final against Kilcoo of Down at the moment

Over the next week, Dessie Farrell will meet the Dublin squad he inherited from Jim Gavin for the first time but few introductions will be necessary.

Naturally enough, his familiarity with so many of the panel of players whose success he will attempt to prolong was viewed as an alluring aspect of his candidacy.

Shane Clayton played under Farrell for three years with the Dublin Under 21s between 2015 and '17 and confirms that the relationship only strengthened as the years went on.

In his case, familiarity bred only mutual respect and success.

Describing him as: "Very good. Very hands-on. Knows the game inside out," the Ballyboden defender says the thing that stood out among Farrell's managerial attributes was how meticulous he was in all aspects of preparation.

"He doesn't leave any stone unturned," Clayton recalls.

"You're literally doing line-outs, kick-outs, throw-ups - every little part of the game that might pop up, we looked at everything.

"What to do if you're down by a goal in the last ten minutes. What to do if you have a man black carded or sent off in the first five minutes - everything is looked at in detail.

"All the lads love him. We really had a good bond with him and the rest of the management team."


"He deserves it really," Clayton goes on.

"All the effort he's put in over the last number of years. He deserves his crack at it and obviously, he had a lot of the players who are there already.

"So he doesn't have to introduce himself to them too much. I think it's the next step and the right step in my opinion."

In 2016, after Ballyboden's All-Ireland club victory, Clayton and Aran Waters were both added to Gavin's squad in advance of that summer's championship.

Given that was his only involvement under Gavin, the sample size isn't sufficient to make a definitive comparison.

Nonetheless, Clayton confirms: "They're two great men and two different styles.

"But they have the love for Dublin GAA at the centre of it and they just want to win as much as possible."

Inevitably then, a second crack with Dublin is now a stated goal for Clayton.

Before that, a second All-Ireland with Ballyboden is squarely in his cross hairs.

In his favour, he has a strong, established relationship with Farrell.

He was also one of Ballyboden's most consistent performers this year in their Dublin and Leinster title successes in a position where fresh blood is a necessity for the squad over the coming seasons.

"Definitely," Clayton insists.

"I'd love to see if I could give it a crack after this. But I'm fully focused on Ballyboden at the moment."

"It's all Ballyboden all the way and see how far we can go."

This year's scheduling, tricky and divisive though it is, could work in his favour.

In previous years, Clayton or anyone else who played in an All-Ireland club final would have had to wait until close to the end of the league before being available to Dublin.

Con O'Callaghan, by way of relevant example, played only a handful of minutes of league football in 2017 and '18 owing to Cuala's winning of back-to-back All-Ireland hurling titles.

Now, technically, even those who play in next year's All-Ireland club finals could be available for their counties in time for the first round of the league but as Clayton admits, that's not exactly practical.


"Obviously this (the club championship) ends on the 19th of January and the league starts the following week," he says.

"But you need to give the body a break, too.

"If someone gets called in a week later or two weeks later, you could pull a hamstring and then you're gone.

"Whereas before, the league was nearly finished so we were kind of brought in for the championship.

"So it can go either way. Because they wouldn't be trying out players in the championship the way you would in the league."

For all that, Clayton has a myopic focus now on Ballyboden's All-Ireland semi-final with Kilcoo on the first Saturday in January in Breffni Park.

Until then, he stresses, Dublin and his chances of being part of Farrell's new era can wait.

"I wouldn't be looking into it (his Dublin prospects) too much," Clayton insists.

"At the end of the day, if you're good enough, you're good enough.

"Dessie will give everyone a fair crack of the whip, so we'll see what happens."

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