GAA Football

Dubs will struggle to replace McCaffrey and Connolly: Sherlock

Former Minor Dublin manager and footballer, Jason Sherlock, pictured at the launch of the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Championships. Electric Ireland is celebrating the seventh year of its landmark #GAAThisIsMajor campaign, with the return of the Player of the Week initiative and the Minor Star awards. The awards will announce the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Hurling and Football Teams of The Year as well as a special 2020 award to recognise the outstanding off the pitch contribution of one young Minor in the country who has gone above and beyond for their community during Covid-19. Picture by ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

REPLACING what they have lost in the form of Jack McCaffrey and Diarmuid Connolly will be “very hard” for Dublin, feels former coach Jason Sherlock.

The Na Fianna man coached the five-in-a-row team under Jim Gavin before they all parted ways with the team at the end of last year, replaced by Sherlock's former team-mate for club and county, Dessie Farrell.

The two big stories of lockdown have been McCaffrey's decision to step away, with no indication yet as to whether he will return, and the inter-county retirement of Diarmuid Connolly right on the cusp of football's resumption.

They also lost Darren Daly, who had been a regular off the bench in big games, and Sherlock says the impact on their changing room will be a challenge for Farrell.

“It is going to be tough, from a playing point a view, a skill point of view, it's very hard to replace guys like that, but also emotionally, a lot of guys would have built up bonds with those guys as friends over the years, so that's going to be tough as well.

“So yeah, it's just going to add to the challenge that they're going to have this year, and as a Dublin fan hope they'll be able to deal with it.”

Sherlock brought his own considerable value to the setup under Gavin and was routinely credited with the implementation of so many basketball tactics from his own days playing the sport.

He also operated as the management team's runner and had a particular tendency to make his way on to the pitch on the opposition's kickouts.

The GAA have been pushing for a ban on Maor Foirnes entering the pitch and while Sherlock denied that his movements were orchestrated, he admitted he could see why questions were being asked over the role.

“I learnt from the best,” he smiled.

“When I started doing it I looked at the other teams and what they did. In the rulebook there's a very defined responsibility and role for the Maor Foirne. I'd like to think I stuck within the rules.

“I can absolutely see why it has been challenged. I had one incident with a Galway player outside the pitch in a National League game but apart from that I never spoke to an opposition in the three or four years I did Maor Foirne.

“Going back to basketball, you try to get that competitive advantage and if the rules allow you go on and reset or refocus and encourage a player, I think as a Maor Foirne your responsibility is to do that to the best of your ability.

“The rules are you can only come on at kickouts when the ball goes dead, so that's not orchestrated, that's applying the rules of it. I'm not admitting to anything, that's what the rule says. If that's where the break in play is…

“If you look at basketball as a sport, you might be on offence but you're thinking about defence. From a GAA perspective, that's probably not a thought process players have. Trying to refocus players when the ball went dead was what I tried to do.

“I can only say from my point of view, do I think did it add value to a team's performance? You probably have to ask the players. If that doesn't fit into the optics of it, then the GAA have to make a call on that.”

Sherlock revealed that he had “a couple of informal enquiries” from other teams after leaving the Dublin setup and he didn't rule out the prospect of taking up the idea in the future.

"It's not something I've dwelt on. I've been involved with the seniors but I was involved in Dublin development squads and I was over a minor team for one year and I really enjoyed that development pathway and seeing how young men develop, even the minor team I was involved with, there was a lot of them at the weekend playing against Tyrone.

“From the outside it is quite unrealistic, I think, the expectations that some counties have for managers coming in because at the end of the day, there can only be one winner every year but it seems like the transition rate of managers is scary in these current times.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

GAA Football