When Dublin recaptured the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship title 12 months ago, it was in large parts thanks to Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey and All-Star full-back Rory O’Carroll.
As 2016 dawned, they had to cope without the pair, but have performed admirably, going unbeaten in the League and Championship. However, there is a sense that if they were both available, the reigning All-Ireland champions would be stronger again.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, manager Jim Gavin has shed light on O’Carroll’s availability for 2017.
“My understanding of it is that Rory isn’t available for next year, but I’m not 100% sure. He went away for work. I’m not sure how that side of things will pan out for him.
“But if he comes back. . . I’m sure he’ll try his best to get involved. If he doesn’t, you can’t really question his reasons, he’s trying to make a few quid.
“It would be great to play alongside him again at some point but if it doesn’t happen I’ve really enjoyed being a friend and a team-mate of his over the last few years.”
On the other hand, McCaffrey expects to be back in front of Hill 16 next year. While modestly stating that he will need to earn back his place, no manager would turn down the opportunity to play the Clontarf man.
“I’m loving the club football now and we have Sigerson kicking off soon enough, we’ve the league and that, and if Dublin were to ask me back in I’d absolutely love to give it another lash.
“Re-energise is probably a fair way to describe it, it would be great to go again and watching the lads and enjoying – hopefully – the win in the final, it would really make you want to get back yourself. So I’m looking forward to it.”
Missing out on O’Carroll but getting McCaffrey back is certainly a mixed bag for Gavin, whose primary focus right now is retaining Sam Maguire tomorrow afternoon.