Paddy Christie sees return of Mannion and McCaffrey to Dublin fold as a ‘priority’

Former full back believes Dessie Farrell’s side can’t afford not to have talented pair on board

Former All-Star Paddy Christie has suggested it should be a 'priority' for Dublin to try to entice Paul Mannion and Jack McCaffrey back into the set-up.

Former Footballer of the Year McCaffrey hasn't played for the Dubs since appearing as a sub against Tyrone over two years ago in the 2020 league.

Three-time All-Star forward Mannion opted out later that year after winning his sixth All-Ireland medal.

Despite missing two championship campaigns, McCaffrey and Mannion are both just 28, so have time on their side to regain top form if manager Dessie Farrell could somehow convince them to return.

Former full back Christie feels that with Dublin struggling to build a new team – and facing relegation to Division Two this weekend if they don’t beat Monaghan in Clones – Farrell should do everything in his power to get them back.

“I think that would be a priority with me, to try and entice those fellas back because they are just too good as players,” said Christie at the launch of this season’s Eirgrid Under-20 Football Championship.

“You don’t have the replacements there. No disrespect to the lads who are there, they are fellas who may make it in a long-term way with enough development and enough work, but they also may not.

“Whereas you have got fellas who are tried and trusted, who have the raw materials, who are top of the ground players at the top of their games, and who are household names and are not involved. It’s hard to sort of absorb those hits I think.”

Farrell has used 49 different players in 10 competitive games so far in 2022 as he attempts to uncover new championship talent. That figure will hit 50 whenever Con O’Callaghan returns.

Christie, currently coaching the Tipperary seniors and in charge of their under-20 side, believes things would look a whole lot rosier with Mannion and McCaffrey back.

"When you look at Paul Mannion, he's one of the best players in the country and for him not to be involved, like, if he was playing with Kerry, centre forward or full forward, he'd be scoring five or six points per game, the same for Mayo, or Tyrone," said Christie. "I just think for Dublin to have fellas like that not involved is tough going.

“If you were bringing back fellas in their mid- or early-30s, you’d sort of say, ‘Well okay, look, he’s probably gone past it at this stage’. But for fellas of that age, Paul Mannion would only be 27 or 28.

“I don’t know if I ever had a peak – some people would say I never peaked – but for me in my career I felt that 27, 28 was when I hit mine.”

Beating Tyrone and Donegal has given Dublin a fighting chance of staying up but they still have to overcome Monaghan, away, while results elsewhere could conspire against them too.

“I wouldn’t be overly confident going into that game just because Dublin had a relatively good performance the last day,” said Christie. “Overall, things haven’t been great so I certainly wouldn’t be putting huge amounts of money on a Dublin win. I think it could be iffy.

“That being said, if they were to go down to Division Two, if that was to happen, I don’t see that being a huge deal either. Some people who would be anti-Dublin would be glowing and saying that it’s some fall from grace, but for me I don’t see it being that big of a deal.

“Would it mean they couldn’t win an All-Ireland afterwards? No, I don’t think so.”

Christie's Tipperary will clinch promotion to Division Three if they beat London in their final-round game. Initially, that was the only Division Four game on Saturday with the remainder on Sunday, though a number of games have been brought forward following claims that the integrity of the competition was at issue.

“The integrity of the competition, when I heard people talking about that, like, ultimately if all the other games were whenever, say all on Sunday, we’d still have to beat London,” said Christie.

“If we beat London, that puts Cavan through as well. I don’t see what the big deal about that is. I understand that someone could be playing a dead rubber on Sunday but that has happened to us before.”