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Friday 20 September 2019

'O'Carroll could still do a job on Walsh if required'

Rory O'Carroll
Rory O'Carroll

It must have been a strangely out-of-kilter day for the three most high-profile Kilmacud men on the Dublin panel.

Paul Mannion came into the drawn All-Ireland final as a potential Footballer of the Year and, while he started brightly with 0-2, his radar then went askew in the sticky company of Tadhg Morley.

But at least Mannion played. Cian O'Sullivan, so long the defensive mainstay, stayed on the bench against the backdrop of another reported hamstring twinge.

For Rory O'Carroll, the prodigal comeback kid, there wasn't even a place on the match-day squad.

O'Carroll's prospects of involvement had taken a battering in an Omagh dead-rubber - his only start this summer.

However, his joint-manager at Crokes, Johnny Magee, insists the two-time All Star full-back shouldn't be judged purely on that one out-of-character performance ... and that he could even be an option to track Tommy Walsh tomorrow, if handed a dramatic squad recall.

"It's very hard for Rory to come back in and hit the heights that he achieved before he left to go to New Zealand. His first proper championship run-out, and didn't go well to his standards," Magee accepts.

"But I had watched him in the club championship and he marked Dean Rock, and he marked Conor McHugh - and Dean Rock is probably one of the best forwards in the country, and did a good job on him.

"There's more in Rory than the Tyrone match (showed)," he added. "He doesn't become a bad defender overnight. Different defenders have had off-days and, considering it was his first proper start, I still believe he could do a job if required on Tommy Walsh.

"Would I rather James McCarthy at centre-back or midfield, imposing his game going forward? Rather than taking away one of your main strengths over the last how many years by sticking him in the full-back line? It wouldn't be my cup of tea … for me, he's been one of the best players of this Dublin team, along with Clucko."

Magee is none the wiser if O'Sullivan might be fit to feature ... but he would still encourage Mannion, at the other end, to pull the trigger if the chance arises.

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