Gilroy rues loss of team leader Griffin
Published 20/03/2010 | 05:00
DUBLIN team management and the squad are coming to terms with the loss of their inspirational skipper Paul Griffin, as the they prepare for tonight's crucial NFL game away to Cork.
Griffin's knee injury, incurred against Monaghan last Saturday night, was confirmed as cruciate damage during the week and the player faces surgery on Tuesday. He is not likely to play again this year.
Dubs boss Pat Gilroy and players Ger Brennan and Michael Fitzsimons were unanimous in their assessment of Griffin's loss to the squad, not only for the Cork match, but for the long term.
"Paul, apart from being a very good player, is an outstanding leader and has been exceptional in that role since we took over," said Gilroy.
"He leads by example all the time. It is a big loss and you hate to see that happen to any player."
Brennan, who plays at left half-back tonight, said: "Words wouldn't do justice to the loss he's going to be. Paul's leadership is huge, particularly because there are a lot of young lads there.
"He's great with everyone. If someone makes a mistake, he picks them up and if they do well, he'll pat them on the back. He's just great to have around."
Cuala's Michael Fitzsimons found Griffin particularly helpful when the 21-year-old was brought into the panel last January.
"We all wish Paul the best for a full recovery. He's a great leader," he said.
Dublin make three changes from the Monaghan game for this big test against Cork at Pairc Ui Rinn.
Michael Savage takes over in goal from Stephen Cluxton, as Gilroy wants to rotate the position throughout the league, Paul Conlon plays at right corner-back in place of Rory O'Carroll, and Hugh Gill is named at right half-back instead of James McCarthy.
Dublin are aiming to win a league game in Cork for the first time since 1981 and Gilroy calls it "a huge challenge".
"Last year Cork were the most impressive team if you judge it over the whole year. They are a big, strong team, they move the ball quickly and they're one of the strongest teams out there," he said.
Four wins out of four, three matches to go and inevitably the questions arises about the possibility of a league final place for the Dubs.
Brennan won't go there, saying: "We're really not getting carried away because we all know what happens when Dublin start looking into the future -- we end up getting a hiding come the All-Ireland."
Meanwhile, as the time grows near for the GAA to consider the benefits or otherwise of the experimental playing rules, Gilroy questioned the benefit and the application of the mark. Ironically, the Dubs haven't had many marks in their four matches to date, but if the rule is to stay, Gilroy feels it needs adjustment.
He reckons the decision as to what to do after the mark should be left with the player.
"If the player was making a decision, maybe it would work better," he said. "But then, maybe that would look too much like another game."