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Crummey experiment unlikely to be the long-term solution - McCaffrey

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Chris Crummey in action for Dublin against Carlow last Saturday

Chris Crummey in action for Dublin against Carlow last Saturday

Chris Crummey in action for Dublin against Carlow last Saturday

There's a couple of different ways of interpreting Mattie Kenny's innovation in playing Chris Crummey predominantly as a forward in Netwatch Cullen Park last Saturday.

The 'needs must' theory posits that without Danny Sutcliffe (hamstring), Liam Rushe (ankle) or Conal Keaney (rested), Dublin lacked a burly, ball-winning presence in that line - other than John Hetherton.

Beating Carlow was a necessity if Dublin are to elongate their spring beyond the first day in March and on a heavy pitch, under a hail and in the midst of a howling storm, Kenny wasn't taking any chances.

The other possibility is that the Dublin manager sees a medium-term future there for Crummey.

"I was wondering if he'd try it," admits Lucan Sarsfields team mate and former Dublin captain, Johnny McCaffrey.

Last year, Crummey played the majority of his hurling for their club in the half-forward line, occasionally switching with his brother and fellow Dublin panellist Paul on the edge of the square.

"It worked to a certain degree," is McCaffrey's measured verdict.

"I suppose with Danny not playing, it probably forced his hand. He wanted a pivotal figure up there.

"I don't know how long he'll persist with it. I don't know if it's because of the injuries or if he sees it as a more long term thing."

Experiment

McCaffrey was in Carlow on Saturday in his role as co-commentator with Eir.

He watched Crummey score 0-2 but also hit three wides.

Given he has long established himself as one of most prolific half-backs in the game, Crummey's scoring contribution on Saturday doesn't necessarily qualify as proof of success of the experiment.

Although as McCaffrey points out: "on another day, he might have had two goals as well."

Plus, Crummey and Rian McBride - who played the majority of the match in midfield - were the only two players who lined out in Dublin's six forward positions who scored from play.

"I just think in their squad at the moment, there's plenty of forwards whereas there's not quite as much cover at the back.

"There are lads to come back into that forward line. I'd be cautious enough about taking him out of the backs to do a job."

The more nuanced possibility is that Crummey could man both positions at various stages this summer.

When Davy Fitzgerald was manager of Clare, Conor Cleary - similar in stature to Crummey - frequently took up a position in the half-forward line on his own team's puck-outs, before retreating to centre-back.

It's a ploy he has also utilised on occasion - and with notable success - with Matthew O'Hanlon with Wexford, Dublin's opponents in Croke Park on Saturday.

"He's a great option for puck-outs," McCaffrey insists.

"But he also has that defender's mindset of chasing down fellas and making it difficult for the opposition half-back line, which is another key thing he could bring to that line."

Freshness

"Sometimes, it's no harm to play somewhere else for a while," McCaffrey notes.

"You see Clare doing it with some of their players," he says in reference to Brian Lohan's use of erstwhile defender David Fitzgerald as a half-forward in this year's League.

"Move them around positions and freshen them up a bit. And maybe this will add a bit of freshness to Chris's game.

"It might just give him a different outlook."

The stiffening challenges of the final two weeks of this Division 1B campaign should reveal more about Kenny's intentions for the coming season.

"Interesting to see if he'll play there against stronger opposition," McCaffrey observes.

"Because if it's something he's looking at doing during the summer, then it's something that he has to be trying in the games when they're going to be really tested."

So too, as McCaffrey notes, will the returns of some of Dublin's most important players.

Particularly the man who captained the team between the respective Lucan men's reigns, Liam Rushe.

"Between Chris and Liam - one of them will definitely have to be in the backs," McCaffrey predicts.

"But there's nothing to say Liam couldn't be back playing in the half-back line again, which would be really interesting.

"Because that's probably Liam's best position."


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