Former Dublin Senior Football Manager Pillar Caffrey is concerned the well may be running dry in the capital’s talent

Pillar Caffrey

On Saturday night, in front of 25,000 supporters, a dream ended. For the thousands of loyal Dublin fans, but more so for Dessie Farrell and the Senior Football panel.  After almost seven years and 45 Championship wins, Dublin’s unbeaten streak was finally stopped in it’s tracks. Mayo sent the Dubs out of the All Ireland Championship. It’s the second time they’ve done it. And it’s only third time since their All Ireland success in 2011 that Dublin won’t be celebrating in September.

Having put themselves in a fantastic position at half time, Dublin were met by a momentous challenge in Mayo. And they just couldn’t stay with the Connacht champions for the remainder of the game. It took extra time, but Mayo ended Dublin’s quest for seven All Ireland titles on the bounce. Now it’s time to reflect on what went wrong.

Former Dublin Football manager Paul Caffrey aluded to the lack of strength in depth that Dublin were displaying back in June. That was before a ball was kicked in Wexford Park to start the Leinster Championship. And after the dust settled on the All Ireland Semi Final on Saturday night, Pillar admitted that change will need to happen.

“There’s a certain finality to what happened in Croke Park on Saturday night” Caffrey said on RTE 2FM’s Game On show last night.

“The team that finished the game out was a long way away from the swashbuckling team of 2017 or 2018 but there’s still great pride.”

Change Is Coming but from where?

Caffrey’s worries hone in on the lack of talent coming through from the development panels in the last couple of seasons. And considering the raft of talent that flourished from those teams during Jim Gavin’s tenure, it’s certainly a growing concern.

“There’s a change coming. Even if you look at our minors this year. They were well beaten by Meath, our 20s well beaten by Offaly. The conveyer of talent (has dropped off), when you consider we got Con O’Callaghan, Brian Howard and Eoin Murchan from one U20 team.

“That’s some haul from one team. Whereas last year’s U20 team, who were beaten by Galway in the All-Ireland final, we didn’t get one player from that team.”

“They were the type of one-in-a-generation player that we were getting that was ready to step in and make a contribution at the highest level.”

Pillar also believes that the apparent unrest in the Dublin camp points back to COVID-19 training breach back in March/April. At the time it drew the attention of everyone with the news breaking on April Fools Day. And it was not well received by everyone from former players to pundits and politicians.

“There’s a couple of teachers in the squad.” Caffrey pointed out.

“There’s frontline workers like Mick Fitzsimons, who is a doctor. A lot of players would have families who are in frontline services. So it probably rattled the squad more than we thought.”