Kilmacud Crokes joint manager Jonny Magee gives his opinion on a Rory O’Carroll return to the Dublin ranks

Johnny Magee - Rory O'Carroll

 

Last weekend Kilmacud Crokes laid down their marker in the Dublin Senior Football Championship with an opening round victory over Ballymun Kickhams. The reigning champions summoned all the resources available to carve out a win over a battling Kickhams. And they couldn’t have asked for a better start.

One of the resources that managers Johnny Magee and Robbie Brennan called on was former Dublin Full Back and All Star winner Rory O’Carroll. There’s been much talk about O’Carrolls return to Ireland following his travels to New Zealand. And it was the 2015 All Ireland Final win over Kerry when Rory last pulled on the blue of Dublin. But at 29, there are years ahead of the rock solid Full Back.

For Dublin, they’ve come through a League Campaign filled with inconsistency, and many sections of the media are calling out former stars to fill gaps they believe Dublin are lacking in. We all know Diarmuid Connolly’s name has been thrown around, and his return to club action with St. Vincents has further strengthened the rumours that he may make a return. But Crokes co-manager Magee has given his opinion on the former defender’s return.

“Look, if I was in Jim Gavin’s shoes and I’m looking at it, why wouldn’t I? I’d call him.” Magee told the Herald this week.

“It’s not a bad call to have a fella who’s a previous All-Ireland medal winner and All Star in the full-back position. It will only add to competition within the group, and his experience will be a benefit – as it has been a benefit to us since he’s back.”

Trial and Error at Full Back

To be fair Johnny’s not wrong in his deductions. And he doesn’t deny that Jim Gavin has used other players to try fill the space O’Carroll left more than three years ago. Both Philly McMahon and Jonny Cooper have done decent shifts in the role. But during the league campaign this year it was evident that Dublin, in some cases, looked uncomfortable under the high ball, a tactic that teams may try capitalise on in the summer.

“There’s still a lot of good footballers out there. I’d say a lot of the lads wouldn’t be happy with some of the league performances… but are they minding themselves and, look, making sure that they’re right for the five-in-a-row?”

“So, there’s room for improvement but, you know, it was bandied about before when Rory went – how could Dublin handle Rory’s loss?

With regards to upsetting people bringing a player straight back into the fold, Magee and Brennan rolled with the punches in putting O’Carroll straight back into the Crokes set up. He’d only played two games ahead of last week’s Round Robin game; a challenge match against Skerries Harps and a league tie also against Kickhams.

But Rory came through last week’s game like he’d never left.

“With the injuries to Liam Flatman and to Cian O’Sullivan, we just felt that bit of experience was required against Ballymun. It was a big call but I think it paid off… well, it did.” he admitted.

“He came through; was very composed when we needed to get kickouts and stuff like that.”