Former Dublin coach dismisses comparisons between Gavin and O’Neill

Former Dublin coach Mick Bohan has taken a veiled swipe at Kildare manager Cian O’Neill ahead of Sunday’s Leinster senior football final.

When asked to compare O’Neill and current Dublin boss Jim Gavin, Bohan insisted that he wouldn’t see the pair as “anywhere similar”, and described them as “completely contrasting characters”.

When asked for an example to back up his point, Bohan pointedly replied: “Jim wouldn’t do anything for show.”

The suggestion that O’Neill is more of a ‘flash’ character than Gavin is sure to stir the pot ahead of the Croke Park showdown between record-chasing Dublin and Kildare.

The Sky Blues are aiming to become the first county to win seven successive Leinster senior football crowns — as an emerging Kildare under O’Neill’s stewardship go in search of a first title in 17 years.

Bohan is a huge fan of Gavin’s, having worked alongside him at U21 and senior levels.

When Gavin was appointed as Dublin senior boss in 2012, Bohan was brought on board as skills coach, and helped to mastermind an All-Ireland senior crown within a year.

But Bohan, who was also an All-Ireland U21 winning coach, believes that Gavin has been “hurt” by the recent Diarmuid Connolly saga — and has “a huge bee in his bonnet” over media coverage of the player.

This week, Gavin stood by his decision to launch a stout defence of Connolly, currently sitting out a 12-week ban, following Dublin’s Leinster semi-final victory over Westmeath.

Gavin refused to engage in one-on-one broadcast interviews after that game, and criticised Sky Sports and The Sunday Game for their handling of the incident involving linesman Ciaran Branagan during the Carlow game which led to Connolly’s ban.

Bohan, the current Dublin ladies senior team boss, revealed: “I know in the last few weeks that the Diarmuid thing would have hurt him (Gavin) because he’s the general and he has to back his men.”

Bohan, however, is fully supportive of Gavin’s stance in relation to the matter, and backed his decision to speak out against a perceived injustice.

Bohan said: “Hugely, and why wouldn’t he? He would have a huge bee in his bonnet over some of the way the media went after the person, rather than the player.

“His whole thing from the start would be to judge them on what they do out there (pitch). That would have hurt him.”

Kildare are now the only obstacle left in Dublin’s path as they chase down seven-in-a-row in Leinster.

And while Bohan notes huge differences in personality between the respective managers, he’s been impressed by O’Neill’s work in Kildare.

Bohan said: “He’s a big job to do, and in fairness, Kildare have made progress but realistically, in the last decade, Kildare are the ones who have been competing with Dublin in minor and U21 so they’ve been producing players.

“It’s not like this team has just come together overnight. Cian has huge experience but I wouldn’t see Cian and Jim anywhere similar — I would see them as completely contrasting characters. Jim wouldn’t do anything for show.

“When you’ve been involved with teams like Mayo and Kerry, who’ve been successful, and I know people would dismiss Mayo because they haven’t won an All-Ireland but if you look back over the last decade, Mayo have been one of the top teams consistently, (and) Cian has been involved with those teams.

“You take huge confidence from that situation and you bring it with you, you talk to teams differently. You talk, not with an arrogance, but with a knowledge and belief in your own ability. When you bring that into a group, that’s immeasurable.”

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