Posted by Daragh Ó Conchúir

Experience More had a chat with eircom GAA ambassador Ciaran Whelan to discuss his highlights and lowlights of the season, who his Footballer of the Year would be if the season stopped now and reveals the player he thinks could have helped him win a coveted All-Ireland medal

Ciaran wheelanExperience More had a chat with eircom GAA ambassador Ciaran Whelan to discuss his highlights and lowlights of the season, who his Footballer of the Year would be if the season stopped now and reveals the player he thinks could have helped him win a coveted All-Ireland medal.

EXPERIENCE MORE: So Ciaran, there is much to choose from, but what is your score of the season?
CIARAN: Jack McCaffrey’s goal against Cork. It had everything and was a brilliant finish.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What has been the save of the season?
CIARAN: Manus Breathnach has three contenders as he kept Galway alive against Cork at Croke Park. He had an absolutely massive game and it was the beset goalkeeping performance of the year.

EXPERIENCE MORE: If you were to name the Footballer of the Year now, who would it be?
CIARAN: Jack McCaffrey. He’s a very good tackler. He obviously has a lot of pace, is very comfortable on the ball and can take a score. And he’s still 19 years of age so he still has a lot to learn and can only get better. He has his feet on the ground too, which is a good thing.

EXPERIENCE MORE: From any era, if you could transfer one player to your county, which would make yours an All-Ireland winning team?
CIARAN: For my era it was Peter Canavan. We, at the time, probably just lacked that top quality forward. His intelligence, his balance, his skill on the ball, his ability to bring other players into the game; he was just a top class player. If we had someone of his quality it would have made a massive difference to us.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who has given your team the most memorable motivational speech ever – from inside or outside the camp?
CIARAN: Keith Wood was very inspirational. He spoke to us around 10 years ago. He was very direct. He was a leader of the Irish team for a long time. He wore his heart on his sleeve, he never let anybody down. He gave 100% every time he took the field. He just had a simple ethic and simple approach to the game. A smart fella, he was quite motivational I have to say. He spoke about preparation for the game and when the game is on. If you make a mistake, how to recover from that mistake. Keep it simple, get yourself back into the game. Driving other fellas on. What fellas needed to be doing when the game was in the melting pot. He was someone that had delivered under pressure in the heat of battle so you listened.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What's the toughest training camp/day/weekend Dublin ever did when you played?
CIARAN: I remember doing a month’s training under Tommy Carr when he first took over the team. He took over in December and at that stage, the league was played pre-Christmas and he felt we’d a bit of catching up to do. We did six weeks of training from January to mid-February I’ll never forget in terms of the work we did. We trained Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we were on Magazine Hill in Phoenix Park on Saturday mornings. I’ll never forget it.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who was the joker on the panel?
CIARAN: Coman Goggins or Senan Connell. Two wisecracks. Always with a smart comment, taking the mickey out of somebody.

EXPERIENCE MORE Who was the best trainer and why?
CIARAN: Paul Clarke. He gave it everything.

EXPERIENCE MORE Who was the best/worst dressed?
CIARAN: The styles have changed a hell of a lot since then! Coman Goggins was still the worst dressed though. Paul Clarke was fairly slick and sharp. He had everything to a tee.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who was the ladies' man of the panel?
CIARAN: Senan Connell. Definitely.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What player from another sport do you most admire?CIARAN: You’d have to admire Brian O’Driscoll in terms of his career and delivering on the big day. He’s been an icon in world rugby not just Irish rugby and I’d have the highest admiration for him.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What manager from another sport do you admire?
CIARAN: Alex Ferguson. I wouldn’t be a Manchester United supporter but for him to be able to sustain the level of performance over such a long period of time, to change teams, revitalise teams. Bring in new guys and when fellas stepped out of line, wasn’t afraid to dispose of the big player when he had to. He made a lot of brave decisions over the years.

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