Paddy Andrews is ‘delighted’ even to be impact sub

Paddy Andrews cringes. He winces a couple of times during a searingly honest interview. On Sunday, he may claim a sixth All-Ireland SFC medal, but the 31-year-old knows it could have been a seventh.

Paddy Andrews is ‘delighted’ even to be impact sub

Paddy Andrews cringes. He winces a couple of times during a searingly honest interview. On Sunday, he may claim a sixth All-Ireland SFC medal, but the 31-year-old knows it could have been a seventh.

There was that lost period, in the middle of his inter-county career, when his application wasn’t what it should have been and Pat Gilroy dropped him off the panel for that 2011 All-Ireland winning season.

“Pat just said, ‘you’re not giving us enough. Go away and decide what you really want to do. If you’re willing to pay the price to do that’. I didn’t know what it took to win All-Irelands. And looking back now, you cringe, of course. I just didn’t do enough, in preparing or getting the best out of myself.

“I’d love to have had the mentality now that I had back then. But it’s all part of learning, as a player and as a person. I probably thought I was better than I was, coming from a decent underage career. I thought I could just carry that on.”

I mention his gesture after the 2009 Leinster final — he held up five fingers to signify Dublin’s fifth consecutive provincial title — and ask if he could have ever imagined, 10 years later, that the county would be on the verge of the same number of All-Irelands.

“I don’t think I’d do that celebration again. That’s 10 years ago. It’s a long time. Pat’s first year that year. Look, there’s no way you could have seen…we went on and got a pretty bad beating a couple of weeks later, by Kerry, in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

“You really question yourself and the team. How close were we to actually winning an All-Ireland? We probably thought we were a lot closer than we were. That’s the beauty of what brought that change of culture. That change of mentality. But, no, coming off the pitch on the bank holiday weekend 2009, I didn’t think I’d be here with what, six or seven All-Irelands for the county since?”

A defender in 2009, before Jim Gavin favoured him as a forward, Andrews was given the unenviable task of tagging Colm Cooper, after David Henry took an early knock. “It was funny. I remember Colin Moran was a selector. He’d just retired. He ran on and he said, ‘Henno’s after getting a bang. You’re going over to mark the Gooch.’ I was like, ‘The Gooch!’ That was my reaction!”

Andrews smiles wryly as he considers his current standing as an impact substitute — he came on for Con O’Callaghan in injury-time against Mayo. It has taken some getting used to, but at least he made the bench the last day, unlike Bernard Brogan and Eoghan O’Gara.

“Last year was one of the first years when I probably didn’t play as much in the latter end of the season, and that’s difficult, of course; it’s difficult for any player. But you see the calibre of player that we have and some of the guys are in some phenomenal form. And that’s all you can go on, really.

If someone picks up a knock or someone gets suspended, you have to be ready to step in and I think, probably, the big thing for me, at this stage last year, I probably was’t playing well enough myself in training, I was probably forcing things, and then you’re no help to anyone, really.

“But what I think you understand is that you use your experience as well, and you’ve got to trust the management. They always have — always, always, since day one — put the team first. Guys are playing better or it’s a better fit for the team, and you’ve just got to go with that. And whatever your role is, even if it’s a little bit smaller than previous years, of course, it’s a challenge, but, God, you’d be delighted to be part of it in any way you can.”

Andrews feared it was much worse when he broke his jaw in a clash with the Tyrone goalkeeper, Niall Morgan, in their March 16 Division 1 game in Croke Park.

Unable to eat, he lost 7kg in 10 days.

“It was funny, looking back. The doctor and the physio ran on and I said, ‘Don’t touch me here, I know there’s something wrong’. There was blood coming out of my mouth, so they said, ‘Look, we just need to have a look; lift your head up’.

“So I lifted my head up and the whole jaw popped out, so I had a fair idea that I was under pressure then. It was just very, very painful. It was horrendous.

“I was told, ‘Look, this is pretty standard. I know it’s sore, but you’ll be back in six to eight weeks’, which was great, because you fear the worst, obviously, having not had an injury like that before.”

Morgan apologised and the pair spoke again at the counties’ latest meeting, in Omagh, earlier this month. “Some people were getting kind of worked up about it and things like that; maybe it was naive of me, but I don’t think anyone would have ever gone out to injure another player.”

Quirke's Final Preview: Kerry's matchups. The Fenton factor. Walsh wildcard. Gough controversy

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.