Paul Caffrey – If Brian Fenton Is A Gift From God, Brian Howard Is Similar


Former Dublin Boss Paul Caffrey sings the praises of young Raheny allrounder Brian Howard

Brian Howard - Dublin Senior Football

As we head towards Sunday’s final phase of the Super 8’s, the elusive team announcement awaits, and people will be anticipating Dublin manager Jim Gavin’s next move.

The game itself is a jostle for position as both Dublin and Tyrone have both qualified for the All Ireland Semi Finals. Sunday will decide who finishes Group 2 in first and second place.

This year’s team headlines have been deservedly filled with names like Paul Mannion, Jack McCaffrey, Cormac Costello and Con O’Callaghan. And rightly so as all have performed superbly even in bit parts. Dean Rock has recently returned from injury and has shone, leaving a difficult task for Costello to edge back into the starting 15.

Pillar Picks His Unsung Hero

But former Dublin manager Paul Caffrey has singled out one player, who he believes is the real ‘pillar’ in Jim Gavin’s ranks.

Following his senior debut in 2017, Brian Howard has become a mainstay in Dublin’s starting 15. And it’s pretty much down to his versatility. The 22 year has bagged two All Ireland medals and is in the mix for a third.

At underage level Howard would have been a solid centre back. But he’s played different roles for Dublin and Caffrey sees him as  a natural reader of the game.

“He’s a different animal and defensively he’s brilliant.” Pillar told the Examiner this week.

“Watching the games, he’s taking up naturally brilliant defensive positions.”

“He sees when there’s a need for him to go in and play in front of the full-back line. He’s their go-to player all summer because of his build, his ability in the air, he’s a huge option for kick-outs.”

He sees things way beyond his years

Niall Scully is the only player this year to have started all of Dublin’s Allianz League and Championship games. But Howard has featured in all 12 of them too, starting 10. And Caffrey regards him as a one off. In fact regards him as highly as his club mate Brian Fenton.

“I say that Brian Fenton was a gift from God because he’s a midfielder really stepping up to the plate. Howard is a bit similar.”

“He’s a rare luxury to have as a manager because this guy doesn’t need an awful lot of coaching in terms of seeing the game as it unfolds — he just does it naturally.”

“He sees things way beyond his years. To me, he looks like a 28-year-old guy out there, his reading of the game, his ability on the ball, his decision-making under pressure, all the boxes he ticks that young fellas don’t normally tick.”