Tony Griffin. INPHO/James Crombie

The ex-Clare hurler and 2006 Allstar who is now part of the Dublin backroom team

Tony Griffin has been one of the figures behind the scenes helping Anthony Daly’s Dublin team who face Cork next Sunday

HE PLAYED FOR Clare in the 2002 All-Ireland senior hurling final loss to Kilkenny.

Four years later, he was lauded for his performances by making the GAA’s Allstar hurling team at left corner-forward.

The following season he stepped back from the inter-county hurling game and headed to Canada where he cycled across the vast country to raise money for cancer charities after his father had died from the disease.

In 2009 he retired from inter-county hurling and the following season penned his autobiography – ‘Screaming At The Sky’.

Now there is a new chapter in Tony Griffin’s life. He has an active involvement in this year’s gripping All-Ireland senior hurling championship campaign but it’s not with his native Clare.

Instead it’s with Dublin, as a member of the backroom team as they prepare for next Sunday’s battle with Cork.

But how did it come about that Griffin was roped in to the Dublin camp? And what’s the verdict on him? Here’s what manager Anthony Daly and captain Johnny McCaffrey think.

Anthony Daly

“To tell you the truth, I knew he was based in Dalkey. I knew he was doing a bit of training with Cuala. So I asked him would he play for a year. Last year I said ‘would you consider it? Give it a go.’

“But he said no, he just couldn’t see himself giving the commitment. Then this year I just went back to him. And I knew he was doing a lot of work with Soar, his charity.

“It’s a great concept as well. We all saw the Jim Stynes documentary as well and I suppose that’s what inspired him as well as the cycle and the cancer work he did.

“I just asked him would he come on board. I saw him at the launch of the championship and loads of fellas put labels on him. What were they? Life coach. Spiritual advisor. There was loads of them. I certainly didn’t give them any of them anyway.

“I said ‘Look, what do you see the role as? You don’t see yourself as selector?’ He said: ‘I don’t have the time to be a selector. A selector needs to be there every night.

Dublin boss Anthony Daly with Tony Griffin
Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer

“So I asked him what role he could see himself fulfilling. He said: ‘I can see myself helping a few lads. Maybe with their confidence and a few different things.’

“So he just trained with the boys in the early part of the year. Dug in doing all the physical stuff down in O’Toole Park. I would say he did maybe three group sessions.

“Maybe they might have been ten minutes with him down in Portmarnock. He’d jog down the end of the beach and they would all sit down on the sand and. I don’t think he says too much. I think he just gets them to talk.

“I don’t think it’s anything to do with the group psychology. I think it is more to do with the individual. And that leads into the group. If more lads are tuned in and more lads are in a good place mentally, it will help the squad.

“When I was with Clare, Father Harry (Bohan) used to take fellas off for a cup of tea. I think of the seasons in 2005 and 2006 that Tony Carmody had, I would attribute an awful lot of that to Father Harry meeting him for lunch once a week down in the Clare Inn.

“They would have a sandwich and a cup of tea and asking: ‘Carmo, how’s things going? How’s the guards going? How’s life going? How’s training going? Are you happy? What do you think you should be working on?’

“It’s all of us in our lives. To talk about things is good and Tony is a great communicator and that’s the role he plays really. Good bloke.”

Johnny McCaffrey

“Tony brings a lot of things. He’s a great talker and a great guy to get into people’s heads. Sometimes it can be hard to relate to guys but with Tony you know he’s been at the top of the game for a long time, he knows exactly what’s needed.

“He brings a professional element to it as well. In a panel of 30 or 35, one or two might not completely be with that side of the game but they’ll all still buy into what’s being said. If everyone carries that out then, it’s great.”

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