What the dramatic return of McCaffrey and Manion means for Dublin hopes in 2023

Updated 3 hours ago

The way Desi Farrell carelessly announced Jack McCaffrey and Paul Manion’s return to the Dublin Committee, evoked memories of Diarmuid Connolly’s surprise return in 2019.

Speaking to Dubs TV after his Super 8s win over Cork in July, Gavin casually revealed that Connolly has made a dramatic return to training with the team.

“James McCarthy brought us back on the field, Owen Morchan, and Johnny Cooper,” Gavin said.

“Diaarmuid Connolly is back training with us. Robbie McKidd is back. Darren Gavin is also back this week. So there is a whole bunch of players coming back to play.”

Gavin was classic. Control the narrative by publishing the story first, while trying to keep things low.

Farrell, whose media personality is no different from his predecessor, took a similar approach.

His revelation that two of the most exciting players of their generation returned to the Dublin fold yesterday was nothing short of the truth.

But the return of the duo, who boast seven All-Stars and 11 All-Irelands in between, will never be under the radar.

2020 was the last time either player wore a Dublin jersey. McCaffrey’s only competitive appearance under Farrell came against Tyrone in the league in February. He came on as a substitute in the first half and came off with a hamstring injury in the 65th minute.

Disappointed with the game, he left the Dublin board and hopped on a flight to New York the next day. A month later, the world came to a halt with the Covid-19 pandemic. By June, McCaffrey’s decision to walk away from the team was confirmed at the age of 26.

Speaking to Bernard Brogan on his December podcast, McCaffrey said he first felt that “the fun was gone from everything” during the 2019 campaign when Dublin won five in a row.

He refused to call it retirement, even if all indications were that he would not return.

“I really don’t like this whole ‘retired’, probably because I’m a little younger. I don’t want to say I’m retired. Gaelic football is a hobby, it’s something I love and no one would be happier than me if I woke up tomorrow and said, ‘I have such a bang, I want to I’m playing for Dublin again. He’s not there at the moment.

Desi Farrell watches a Dublin FC game in Parnell Park.

Source: James Crombie / INPHO

Similarly, Mannion withdrew at the end of the 2020 season as he had to deal with a sub-impact role during the tournament. He insisted that his role on the bench was not behind his decision to leave the committee.

Enjoying his newfound freedom over the past two years, he has spent two summers playing football in Boston.

Mannion continued to play at a high level with Kilmachoud Crooks, despite a knee injury that prevented him from making his way to the All-Ireland Final in February.

All indications are that he does not wish to return to inter-provincial football.

In April, he said: “It’s well documented the commitment and time it takes to play inter-division football. Sometimes when you’re in it it can be a bubble and I’ve enjoyed being outside a bit and being able to spend more time and focus with the club and other things, so it was time wonderful.”

Then in another media appearance in June, he said of his Dublin career, “I feel like I’ve kind of drawn under that now,” adding that he was “tired” from the commitment involved in playing for Dublin.

Manion has come out single as the best striker in Dublin football in recent seasons. Athletic still in his prime.

Clontarf did not work for McCaffrey under the same spotlight as Kilmacaud, so his performance was less scrutinized.

Carrying the water, presumably injured, Clontarf suffered a touchdown in front of Rahini at the weekend. He’ll turn 29 by the time the league starts next season and injury ruled out, there’s no reason why this year’s former Footballer of the Year can’t be back at his best in 2023, even if 2019 is his last proper season in inter-county football. .

Since both Mannion and McCaffrey have indicated that they will only play Dublin again if their hunger returns, their time away from the game’s elite level should have revitalized them.

When they left, Dublin was the undisputed kings of Ireland.

Now Kerry has taken the throne. When David Clifford and Sean O’Shea finally got Sam Maguire, many assumed it was the start of a new era of green and gold dominance.

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Perhaps that is some of the appeal of the returning pair. Dublin operates from Division 2 and without all of Ireland in two years, they are hunters, not prey.

Paul Manion leaves the game with an injury

Manion came out limping with an ankle injury at the weekend.

Source: Laszlo Geczo / INPHO

They both have close ties to Dessie Farrell, who managed them for Dublin at junior level and U21 level. The chance to oust Kerry, bring Dublin back to the top and help him win another All-Ireland title as manager has appeal.

It’s launching a rocket under Dublin Opportunity for next year. Since the news was announced, their odds of winning the All-Ireland race have fallen from 11/4 to 2/1 with one of the top bookmakers.

McCaffrey and Manion add up exactly what they lost in 2022, pacing from deep and most scoring power up front.

Without the injured O’Callaghan, Dublin lost by a point to Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final. If the top competitors meet again in 2023, O’Callaghan, Manion and McCaffrey will likely add to the Sky Blues squad initially.

Of course, the news will increase Kerry’s determination. It will give the kingdom a new incentive, even if the challenge of conquering Dublin becomes greater.

There is no doubt that the return of two of the game’s greatest talents has contributed to the excitement of the 2023 tournament.

Originally posted at 1 p.m.

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