GAA: DUBLIN GAA IN CRISIS PAT IS THE PLAYERS CHOICE; Whelan Leads Calls for O'Neill to Replace Carr
Byline: Jackie CAHILL
DUBLIN midfield dynamo Ciaran Whelan has called on Pat O'Neill to unify the county by telling him: "The job's yours - if you want it."
The Raheny man last night backed the growing campaign for O'Neill's return to office which is gathering increasing momentum.
The 'Doc' led the Blues to three consecutive Leinster titles after taking over from Paddy Cullen in 1992.
And he also masterminded a first All-Ireland in 12 years in 1995.
He perhaps wisely got out while the going was good, but after a lengthy absence Dublin chiefs will be hoping he's regained his appetite for intercounty management.
He's so far refused to comment publicly on the situation, but there's no doubting that he's the hottest of hot favourites to take over the post vacated by Tommy Carr who was sacked on Monday night.
O'Neill considered the under-21 job two years ago before eventually opting out, but it's believed the wheels are already in motion to get him back to the biggest job of all.
Brian Mullins had emerged as the leading candidate for the role after an alleged approach.
The former Derry supremo and Hill 16 legend is on the record as stating his interest, but O'Neill now appears to be the man in the driving seat.
And Whelan believes he's the ideal candidate to spark a return to the glory days.
"Pat O'Neill has a great record," said Whelan, "He led Dublin to three Leinster titles and the All-Ireland title in 1995.
"And if he could repeat the trick I'd be a very happy man in four years time. Dessie Farrell said the main priority is to bring the glory days back to Dublin, and if Pat wants the job I've no doubt he'll get it straight away.
"He's a shrewd man, but the only thing that might put him off are the potential problems involved.
"If I was the person taking the job I'd be very worried about the relationship between the players and county board chairman John Bailey," he warned.
"What's happened over the past week is an absolute joke, a shambles," Whelan lashed.
"I'd like to see the same panel retained because it's the best that Dublin has to offer. But there's no better man for the job than Pat O'Neill, if he wants it."
The name of Val Andrews has also been linked with the manager's job - but he's also given his full support to any move to re-appoint O'Neill.
Speaking exclusively to Mirrorsport, Andrews said: "It's a huge job, but looking at the candidates he has all the necessary credentials.
"Any man with a record like his has to come into the reckoning. He's done it all before."
Andrews also revealed that if he was approached himself, he'd give the matter serious consideration.
"There's an awful lot of time and commitment involved, but the hardest thing I found being involved with Cavan was the travelling.
"Being based in Dublin is a major advantage."
Former Na Fianna boss Paul Caffrey has also been linked with the job, but he's appealing for calm in the wake of the week's dramatic events.
Caffrey guided Na Fianna to the All-Ireland club final in 1999 and is currently in charge of St Pereguine's in the capital.
He refused to comment on speculation linking him with the Dublin job, and also on reports that he was approached by Cavan just a fortnight ago.
He said: "The less people say at this stage, the better for all concerned. In my opinion it's received more than enough coverage.
"We just just let sleeping dogs lie and focus in on what's best for Dublin football. There's just no point in throwing any more fuel on the fire. …