Friday 15 December 2017

Home games at Croker a big advantage for Dubs – Caffrey

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

FORMER Dublin manager Paul 'Pillar' Caffrey believes the current Dubs side have an advantage playing their league games at Croke Park.

Jim Gavin's charges have blazed a trail to the top of Allianz Football League Division 1. Last year's beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists have both a better defensive and offensive record than anyone else in the division and Caffrey admits it's an edge he would have liked his Dublin side to have had.

"Dublin have had an advantage, whether people like saying it or not," said Caffrey, who managed the Dubs from 2005 to 2008.

"They like playing here at Croke Park. It is an easy venue to get used to. The style of play out there suits Dublin's style of play.

"Jim has obviously gone for a more expansive style than Pat (Gilroy) went for. And when you see the likes of Jack McCaffrey out there, he wouldn't be getting that sort of room if these matches were being played in Parnell Park.

"Johnny Cooper is the same. These guys are really suited to playing at Croke Park. They have great speed and great agility.

"It's also an advantage for other teams whether it's Kildare or Donegal or whoever because ultimately, if you are going to win the All-Ireland you are going to have to play a few games there.

"It's a different examination of a player as opposed to a local venue or Parnell Park. You get a different read of player playing for Dublin at Parnell but it's totally different at Croker with the surface and the space being much bigger. So that's where you need to be judging your players."

And while 'Pillar' is delighted with Dublin's progress, he warned they are still dependent on the fitness of some key individuals.

"Dublin are going so well at the moment. The question is can they keep that level of consistency going through the league because it will be a first if they do.

"Rory O'Carroll, I would say at this stage is probably irreplaceable. He is the one fella who there is probably no one to step in for.

"In four Leinster finals, I played four different players and that showed that when Paddy Christie went, we didn't have a set No 3.

"Bernard Brogan has just been a scoring machine. It's not a phrase I like using, because you're only setting someone up, but the games I've seen him in – bar the Kildare game at Parnell Park (the O'Byrne Cup final) – he's been actually ummarkable.

"That comes down to the quality of ball but it also comes down to the fact that he is playing very close to goal this year, which is very different to where he was playing under Pat.

"He is the top man all the time at the edge of the square so he's looking for the danger ball all the time. He has been sublime."

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