Former Dublin manager Paul Caffrey has identified Brian Howard as a “rare luxury” in the All-Ireland holders’ team as they close in on history.
Niall Scully is the only Dublin player to have started all of their Allianz League and Championship games in 2019, but Howard has featured in all 12 of them too, starting 10.
Caffrey said the 21-year-old is a one-off, in that he doesn’t actually require much coaching.
“He’s a rare luxury to have as a manager because this guy doesn’t need an awful lot of coaching in terms of seeing the game as it unfolds — he just does it naturally,” said Caffrey.
“He sees things way beyond his years. To me, he looks like a 28-year-old guy out there, his reading of the game, his ability on the ball, his decision-making under pressure, all the boxes he ticks that young fellas don’t normally tick.
“Watching the games, he’s taking up naturally brilliant defensive positions, he sees when there’s a need for him to go in and play in front of the full-back line.
“He’s been a go-to player all summer because of his build, his ability in the air. He’s a huge option for kick-outs. He’s evolved so much, he rarely turns over ball and he has a phenomenal sidestep, so he can give himself a yard of room out of nothing.”
It remains to be seen if Gavin opts to start Howard against Tyrone or if he’s rested before the semi-final.
“He’s an all-rounder and is very, very important to the team,” said Caffrey. “No more than Brian Fenton coming through a few years ago.
“I say that Brian Fenton was a gift from God because he’s a midfielder really stepping up to the plate. Howard is a bit similar.”