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18th Jul 2018

How Pillar Caffrey showed faith in a teenage Kevin Nolan

Michael Corry

In an era where Dublin are clocking up All-Ireland wins like they are going out of fashion, some may forget the important role played by Kevin Nolan.

He kicked the winning score in the breakthrough victory over Kerry in 2011, he also picked up the Man of the match award for his performance, and his season eventually ended with an All-Star. Unfortunately, Nolan’s career took a turn a few months later when doctors discovered that he was suffering from Type 1 Diabetes.

Another Dublin figure that could possibly have fallen by the wayside during this golden generation is Paul Caffrey. Pillar spent four years at the Dublin helm, winning four Leinster titles in the process. The holy grail alluded him during his reign, but that in no way diminishes the contribution he made to a team that has won all there is to win. As this photo of him celebrating with Bernard Brogan after the 2016 final perfectly illustrates.

Nolan was a guest on this weeks episode of ‘Blue Is The Colour’, the official Dublin supporters podcast and he opened up on his inter-county career. The ecstasy of winning Sam Maguire, followed by the agony of having his life flipped upside down. It was a compelling listen, but one story about the impact that Pillar had on his players and how he repaid their faith in him stood out.

Kevin was 19, a new face to the Dublin squad, he was biding his time on the ‘B’ team until his opportunity arose. Around the same time, word was spreading that AFL scouts were in the country looking for fresh talent. We’ll will let him take it from here.

“There was a lot of scouts asking people for trials, and I was asked to go for a trial one weekend. We were playing an A vs B game as well that weekend. So, I had to come up with my own solution. Do I go down for the trials and put myself first, or do I go to the training, not too make up the numbers, but take my position on that B team because that’s where I was.”

Nolan continued, “I got a phonecall asking me to go down Saturday and Sunday for the trials. Thought about it, rang Pillar. I spoke to him about it all and he told me to go down, enjoy it. Don’t say anything about the squad, about the set-up, but go down enjoy it and do what you can. A couple of hours later I rang him back and said listen, Ive turned down the chance to go to trials, I want to be there for the A vs B match.”

The incident occurred a few weeks before the 2008 Leinster final as Dublin prepared to take on Wexford. Nolan was yet to make his championship debut at this point. Low and behold come the week of the final he was named in the starting line-up. Nolan had the unusual honour of making his Dublin debut on Leinster final day.

Pillar had shown faith in a young lad who had the chance to follow an opportunity but instead chose to throw his lot in behind his county to prepare them for a big occasion. By God, was he rewarded for that.

The GAA Hour live show heads to Cookstown this week as we preview the Super 8 clash between Tyrone and Dublin. Both Kevin Nolan AND Pillar Caffrey will be part of our panel. You can register for FREE tickets by clicking on the link above. They may be FREE but there is limited spacing, so get in there quick.

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