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06th Jan 2023

Dessie Farrell reveals why Paul Mannion and Jack McCaffrey returned to Dublin

Lee Costello

McCaffrey Mannion

“There would always be an opening.”

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell has already been handed a huge boost this year as former county stars Paul Mannion and Jack McCaffrey have returned to the panel.

Mannion was a part of Farrell’s 2020 All-Ireland winning side but was primarily used from the bench, when under previous managers would have been a starter.

McCaffrey meanwhile, opted out of the team in 2019, citing that work life was just too hectic for him to manage alongside the demands of inter-county football.

McCaffrey Mannion

“I think you have to respect that when a player’s heart isn’t in it for whatever reason and he wants to move on or travel or concentrate on his career or work or for some it’s a young family or whatever, then everyone has to respect that,” Dublin manager Dessie Farrell said of the pair’s decision to step away in 2020/2021.

“And all you can do at the time is wish them good luck and give them your blessing and hope maybe that in a period of time they might change their mind.

“Because not even from my perspective or a Dublin perspective, you’d hate for any young player that you have worked with over the years and seen grow and develop, to have regrets later in their career about cutting it too short or whatever.”

McCaffrey Mannion

Well, changed their minds they did, and with Jonny Cooper retiring this year, Farrell will be delighted to have some firepower returning to the squad.

It was never a case of begging them back, but it was also never a case of closing the door on them and in an interview with the Irish Independent, the Na Fianna man revealed that they were always welcome to return.

“That was always the wish, the lads always knew as far as I was concerned, or for as long as I was involved, there would always be an opening.

McCaffrey Mannion

“I have a very good relationship with them starting with development squads at U-13s and U-14s, so, I would have been in touch all along and conversations were had at different stages.”

The Dublin manager did hint that one of the reasons they are returning is because of the sickening defeat that they suffered to Kerry in last year’s semi-final.

McCaffrey Mannion

“You’d always be touching base or having a conversation, and obviously the defeat last year, that was a bitter pill to swallow in terms of the nature of it against the opposition, but I think the spirit in the performance in the second half probably added a factor as well in terms of the lads’ own decisions.

“It’s the tightest of margins, missing a player or two last year through injury at different stages. Con and Davy Byrne and that depth and strength and experience is always vitally important at the business end of the championship.

“I think they (Mannion and McCaffrey) could see themselves making a contribution in that regard, so we’re delighted to welcome them back with open arms.”

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