Dublin’s greatest general hails GAA’s history makers

Dublin’s greatest general hails GAA’s history makers
Manager Jim Gavin is joined by his father Jimmy to celebrate Dublin’s historic five in a row achievement at Croke Park on Saturday night. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile.

Five in a row or not, Jim Gavin was in character facing the press after the final whistle.

The Dublin manager was calm and collected and made a point of remembering as many of those who contributed to the All-Irelandvictory as he could.

“They’re all unique,” said Gavin of Saturday’s game, “But I suppose when you are playing a team like Kerry, they have really asked questions of the guys over the last two games. I know how much it meant to the people of Dublin, the people who support the team.

"There was obviously great expectation going into it, I’m just delighted for the players. When there were questions asked of them in both games that they were able to come up with the answers.

"Whatever about reputations and what people from the outside think of them, they really showed their character over the last two games. So first and foremost you are just so happy for those.

“Then for Dublin clubs and the schools that develop these players. When we get them you just add a bit of polish, but the phenomenal work that goes in at Cumann na mBunscoil must be remembered. The teachers who volunteer their time, the club members and Games PromotionOfficers...

“To see the fruits of their labour probably doesn’t touch on these players, but certainly the next generation coming behind them.

Then obviously (I’m happy) for anybody who supports Dublin GAA in Dublin or the team, who might have no connection with any club, but who puts a bit of blue out in their garden or wants to support the boys. Saturday is probably the loudest I heard them, that I can recall anyway in a game. I’m just thrilled for them overall. There is a sense of happiness now.

Gavin’s backroom team also came in for praise: “I have an outstanding backroom team from the medical side to our statisticians, from Bryan Cullen and the S&C, the athletic development of the players and the most important person is David Boylan, my kit man. He does trojan work for us.

“Davy Hendricks, he looks after all of our facilities and gets everyone in tip-top shape for us, if you don’t have them . . . like, logistics wins wars.

“From a coaching side, Paul Clarke has done a phenomenal job, I mentioned Josh (Moran) and Declan Darcy and Jason Sherlock, they are just phenomenal men first and foremost, I’m just part of that team and just happen to be at the front end of the bus.

“I’ve got a really strong team behind me and the county board is phenomenal as well. I’m just fortunate to have John Costello there, so listen, I’m after mentioning all of the parts there to it and all them need to be set up again.

“I haven’t had those conversations yet for obvious reasons but I will over the next couple of weeks and then we’ll scope it out.

“You’re just in a privileged position to work with players that are so dedicated to their sport. I have it easy. Club managers have it tough, sending texts around to training, inter-county managers don’t do that, people turn up and you have a full complement for every training.

“You’re excited today and excited to look on the horizon but that’s probably for another day, I’m not going to get into it now. I’ll sit down with the county board and obviously review it, I have a profession outside of this role that I’ve been asked to do for Dublin GAA and then obviously I’ve family commitments as well and it all goes into the mix but now isn’t the time . . . I have committed to next year so we’ll reflect on it in a couple of weeks.”

In the specifics of the victory Eoin Murchan’s tearaway goal was a vital score: “I’ve seen it before from him, I don’t think anybody was surprised when it hit the net. He really committed himself - it’s what you see from them when you are with them that often. They all have jobs to do, when we meet it is very brief. So your time is precious with them, but they are a great team and great men to work with.”

And their greatness was confirmed by the five in a row, though Gavin said he “hadn’t really thought about it like that.

“It is great for the county, but our primary aim was to get a performance. I’m not trying to dismiss it in any shape or form, it is phenomenal for Dublin GAA for this to happen, but when you are going into a game like this you have to focus on trying to get your game plan, game and process right.”

His captain also made a significant contribution: Stephen Cluxton’s save from Stephen O’Brien in the second half was a crucial moment.

“That’s the result of hundreds of hours. If you look back on his stance (how he narrowed the angle). Josh Moran, his goalkeeping coach, and the goalkeeping coaches that have worked with him deserve credit for that.

“That’s something that you see replicated. I saw it earlier on this week, I saw it the day after the replay, him spending two hours on the pitch with Evan Comerford and Michael Shields from Sylvester’s, the goalkeeping coach.

“The three of them were working on trying to rectify his positioning for Killian Spillane’s goal in the first game. So that’s someone who’s dedicated to their craft, and the result of that is what you see in those clutch moments. That’s what Stephen does – he does his job. He had a bloody laptop, trying to replay in slow motion what way his feet and positioning were. That somebody who’s a master of his craft.

“Through that example, he inspires people around him. Stephen is well able to talk, he’s very articulate and people listen. But how he demonstrates, his actions, that’s what I’m interested in. That’s what he does. He’s a do-er.”

The manager was also happy to discuss the prodigal son, Diarmuid Connolly: “It’s been great to have him back, he loves Dublin, he loves Dublin GAA, he loves playing for the county, he loves the guys, the guys love him, it was always going to be a win-win.

“Life is not a straight line, there are twists and turns and cul-de-sacs. The way it happened was the way it happened. He was always welcomed and I think I was consistent on that.”

Gavin’s Dublin has a constantly changing cast of characters, though that’s not deliberate, he pointed out: “It’s not something that I set out purposely to do, we do base it on who is performing well and we’ve been consistent on that.

If you are performing well you are going to get your slot. Age doesn’t matter to us. If you are good enough you are good enough, and I think you saw with that Kerry team, some of their players – 19, 20 – and they are good enough to be in. They were unfortunate probably that we got a goal at the start of the second half and we obviously built on that.

Five in a row represents history, but is it a watershed? Will players continue after this weekend’s victory?

“I don’t see any reason why not,” said Gavin. “These are all players’ choices.

“We get into the campaign next year, and you’re excited to see some of the talent that’s coming around the corner. But each player needs to make those choices in the offseason because it is a big commitment.”

And the manager himself?

“I’m excited about the future. You look at today, the players that didn’t travel.

“Darren Daly was really unfortunate, he picked up a little nick during the week. Rory O’Carroll didn’t travel. Eoghan O’Gara, who’s just an amazing man. Conor McHugh, Seán Bugler, Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne, Cillian O’Connor, Andy McGowan, I mentioned Michael Shields already, so there’s players there that you’re excited about…

For now, however, there’s the enjoyment. The togetherness.

“For the medal presentation, there are always players at work or abroad with work, so yeah, it’s the last time we’ll be together, being able to reach out and connect with each other, just us and the management team and backroom together.

"So they are special moments and I can without hesitation remember each and every one of the six times we’ve been together after an All-Ireland final. They are special moments.”


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