Philly McMahon says Dublin should call on another departed star
Stephen Cluxton made a shock return to the matchday squad last weekend.
Dublin legend Philly McMahon says that Dessie Farrell should try to ‘headhunt’ retired defender Jonny Cooper ahead of this summer’s championship.
The seven-time All-Ireland champion stepped away from inter-county football after the 2022 campaign, but McMahon thinks that Cooper’s experience as as sweeper could be vital as Dublin look to win back Sam Maguire for the first time since 2020.
Dessie Farrell has already recruited Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion back into the fold after a number of years away, while legendary goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton made a shock return to the matchday squad last weekend after a similar absence.
Speaking on The Throw-In, Independent.ie’s GAA podcast, McMahon said that Farrell shouldn’t stop there, and a call to the recently-retired Cooper could bring some much-needed solidity to the Dublin defence.
"There is a need for experience in front of the fullback line,” McMahon said.
"A big reason for Dublin's success over the years was having someone in front of the fullback line. Jonny Cooper stepped away ahead of this year. He is someone I would be head-hunting now. There is precedence there now. Would you not say to him to come back and sit in front of the three boys in the fullback line? I would be worried in the rest of the country if Clucko comes back and Jonny Cooper comes back.”
A big talking point now is whether Stephen Cluxton will start in Sunday’s Division Two league final against Derry. He was on the bench behind David O’Hanlon last weekend, the young net-minder who started throughout the league with Evan Comerford out injured.
McMahon added that if Dessie Farrell’s entire focus is on winning an All-Ireland in 2023 rather than balancing this year’s aims with the future, the former Dublin captain should be back between the posts.
"If my goal was to win an All-Ireland this year and not look at next year or the year after, Stephen Cluxton is playing against Derry for me," McMahon said.
"It would be very harsh on David O'Hanlon to be taken out of the team and for Stephen to go straight back in but when else does Dessie get the chance? Changing the goalkeeper for the championship is a difficult thing to do."
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