The morning after attending last month’s All-Stars ceremony at the Convention Centre, Jim Gavin headed for Kilmessan in Meath and Fergies pub.
Usually one for a low profile, the former Dublin manager surprisingly agreed to a cameo in a short movie, a lighthearted adaptation of Waking Ned, for the local hurling and camogie club’s ‘Oskars’ fundraiser.
He played a barman, carrying a tray-full of Guinness, and with an over the top roll of the eyes queried with amateur drama, ‘Lads, who’s going to pay for these pints?!’ as a giddy group of locals celebrated a lottery win in the scene.
A few days later, a video emerged on Twitter of Clondalkin man Gavin, closer to home at the local Clonburris National School, dancing along with ‘Ms O’Brien’s 1st class’ to the Cinderella tune Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.
At half-time in the Dublin SFC semi-final between Ballyboden St Enda’s and St Judes, an excited looking Gavin was also spotted kicking ball and larking around with his son, Jude, on the pitch.
Perhaps away from the cameras and camera phones he was this relaxed and approachable after his previous five All-Ireland wins but it felt like a victory lap all the same as he lowered his guard noticeably.
Thanks and goodbye.
Now with the countdown on to Christmas and just 54 days out from the start of the National League, Dublin are managerless, their five-in-a-row winning manager gone but not easily forgotten.
Dessie Farrell, noticeably quiet like all of the Dublin players since Gavin’s announcement of his departure on Saturday, remains the strong favourite to step up.
Dublin chairman Sean Shanley has stated he favours continuity and some link between Gavin’s outgoing management team that contained Jason Sherlock, Declan Darcy, and Paul Clarke and the new regime though that clearly wouldn’t rule out Farrell, Gavin’s former playing colleague, from taking over.
“We’re blessed that we have so many people that have the experience, we’re not going cold to anyone,” Shanley told RTÉ Radio.
Shanley said that Mick Bohan, Gavin’s former skills coach in 2013 and currently in charge of the three-in-a-row winning ladies team, rejected the notion of succeeding Gavin when chatting recently.
“I was chatting to him totally socially at the ladies awards and I just said would you have any interest in the future going back with the men? He said, ‘no’ but sure what else would he say at the ladies function,” said Shanley.
Business interests forced Pat Gilroy, the 2011 All-Ireland-winning manager, out of the hurling job last year though Shanley said that ‘if he’s interested we would certainly talk to him’.
The Dublin chairman threw in a curveball when he agreed that Stephen Cluxton, Dublin’s captain fantastic and still a player, couldn’t be ruled out.
“Hopefully Stephen stays (playing) but we’d certainly have to talk to him, a captain that’s after captaining Dublin to five-in-a-row, you’d have to talk to him and get his opinion and views but it’s a hard enough job being goalkeeper without being manager as well. Who knows.”
Farrell, who guided Dublin to All-Ireland minor (2012) and U21 (2014 and 2017) wins seems a far more likely replacement.
“I heard there’s three names — Dessie Farrell, Dessie Farrell or Dessie Farrell,” quipped former Meath forward Bernard Flynn.
Farrell is currently in charge of Na Fianna and club-mate Paul Caffrey, the former Dublin manager, claimed that Farrell is “the number one candidate” and “would have always wanted the senior job”.
If Farrell does seek it, it will be a u-turn on his comments of December 2016 when he stated in his last media briefing as chief executive of the GPA that he couldn’t ever see himself managing the seniors.
“I think the commitment is too great. I’ve been happy coaching young players and being involved with young players over the years. U21 is probably the limit for me.”
Like Gavin, Farrell hasn’t made any public comment since the Dublin GAA website carried the headline few expected on Saturday, ‘Jim Gavin departs as Dublin manager’. That confirmation followed an address by Gavin to his stunned players at the Innisfails club, one of their regular training bases. Tears, apparently, were shed.
As if to underline how unexpected that news was, a media event due to take place this morning involving Jack McCaffrey was hastily postponed. Ironically, the Dublin players and management had been due to convene for an official team photograph on Saturday. That too was postponed.
Officials will meet tonight to get the ball rolling regarding a new appointment.
“We’ll have a management meeting, then a county committee meeting and we’ll get permission off the county committee to go and find a new manager,” said Shanley.
“Three of the management committee will talk to the individual people, see who is interested and get their views, who they’d be thinking of bringing in with them. We have to talk to all the ones concerned. We’ll get word who is interested and it only takes a phone call then to confirm if you are interested or you’re not interested.
“We’ll take it from there. I’d like to see someone coming in that keeps it going, that we’re still at the top.”
Gavin agreed just last winter to remain on until the end of 2021 though it now appears that was a move designed to avoid any distracting conversation about his position during the drive-for-five.
Then, on a humdrum Saturday afternoon when no-one was looking, he slipped out the side door.
Dessie Farrell and senior selector Paul Clarke are the initial front-runners for the dubious honour of replacing Jim Gavin as Dublin manager.
Farrell, who has led Dublin’s minors and Under 21s to All-Ireland success, shortened from 4/7 from 4/9 with BoyleSports in the wake of Gavin’s announcement.
For continuity, John Costello and his executive may look to the likes of Clarke, with board chairman Sean Shanley telling RTÉ Radio Sunday: “Maybe it would be the best way of a bit of continuity. Jim had a great backroom team. This wasn’t the same backroom team that won five in a row. He’s chopped and changed one or two new people in every year. I think that’s what kept it fresh.
“I would love to see some continuity. I wouldn’t like to see the whole lot gone. We’ll have to ask them first are they’re interested, and see is there one of them prepared to take on as manager.”
Boylesports go 4/9 Farrell, 7/1 Clarke and Jason Sherlock, 10/1 ex-boss Pat Gilroy, and same for Dublin ladies boss Mick Bohan. Stephen Cluxton is 33/1.