McCaffrey insists Daly's troops ready to take next step up ladder
IT HAS been the major talking point hanging over the Dublin hurlers -- how good could they be if only Anthony Daly had a full panel to choose from.
He's not there yet, but the Clare native is tantalisingly close as his charges get their Leinster Championship campaign up and running in Tullamore this evening.
The 'cruciate three' are back in harness and David Treacy is flying. Alan McCrabbe, Ross O'Carroll and the suspended Ryan O'Dwyer might be missing out, along with Paul Schutte and Martin Quilty, but even still the boys in blue have a fearsome look to their team that is unprecedented in recent years.
The injuries opened doors for young guns like Danny Sutcliffe to stake their claim and the return of the more established players means that Dublin now have a potent bench and Johnny McCaffrey reckons that the squad can go a step further than last year's success.
"Definitely," he said. "If everyone is fully fit the panel we have is exceptional... That is what you want coming into championship time, the best 15 being picked from lads going well in training and the only way you will get good training games is everyone to be there.
"We would now hope that we have the right options there if the starting 15 aren't going well; that we can change things and have four or five lads who can really change things when they come on."
Established names like David O'Callaghan, Maurice O'Brien, Peadar Carton and Oisin Gough must make do with places on the sideline, something McCaffrey only sees a strong point.
"Oisin Gough is a prime example of a lad who was a regular starter over the last few years, but he can't get in this year, even though we've had injuries. That's the calibre of player we have," he said.
"But the injuries have opened the door for the likes of Danny Sutcliffe, Eamon Dillon and Ruairi Trainor to come in and stake a claim for a place in the team. It has only strengthened our hand when it comes to picking the team."
Despite being only 24, McCaffrey is one of Dublin's more experienced hands having come on to the scene at the end of the county's callow years. "When I started out six or seven years ago, Dublin was nowhere to be reckoned with, we were 12th or 13th on the list. Now we're in the top half and it is great to be up there," he said.
"When we came in first, there were three or four of us put into the first team and expected to do everything. Now when the younger lads come in the team is more established, so there are only one or two places up for grabs for them.
"There is not as much pressure on them, they can go out and play with their own freedom because there is not as much expected of them."