Like Pat Gilroy before him, Jim Gavin invited GAA reporters for an informal chat at the beginning of his reign in October 2012.
A room in a Dublin hotel was booked and the new manager talked about the county’s rich tradition, accompanied by a video of past successes.
Plenty of thought clearly went into the presentation and Gavin regularly hosted 8am media briefings before league and Championship games for a number of seasons.
By 2019, all that was gone, Gavin presumably realising that he didn’t actually need the media, and it wasn’t until before the All-Ireland final that he agreed to his first round table sit-down this year.
Truth be told, few in the media complained as Gavin had long since mastered the art of speaking without saying anything of substance at all, something Éamonn Fitzmaurice picked up on in Kerry.
“If you were going to beat them, it wasn’t by sitting down doing interviews or giving nuggets, particularly when you were getting nothing out of their camp — either from players or management,” noted Fitzmaurice in an Irish Examiner interview.
Still, not even Gavin could keep his guard up for seven whole years and the ex-Dublin boss did drop enough nuggets of intrigue over the years to remember him by.
On the death of Kevin Heffernan in January 2013: “We mentioned before the game (O’Byrne Cup final) the virtues and what Kevin brought to the game of football. He was a visionary, a strategist, and those guys stand on his shoulders. Certainly I, and the guys in our dressing room, wouldn’t be where we are in Dublin GAA without the vision of Kevin Heffernan.”
On Championship reform: “There was a very good suggestion of completely revamping the National League and merging it with the All-Ireland series that was made back around 2000 and I think that’s the template that we’ll eventually need to get to.”
On bringing in the sin-bin or black card: “I still believe that the sin-bin is the only way to deal with cynical play. If you give the guy the black, the game is slowed down and he’s achieved his aim. Yeah, he might go off the pitch but it gives the opposition time to set up their defensive system. The only way to hurt a team is to get them in the sin-bin and have them down a man straight away.”
Post-match press conference after winning the 2013 All-Ireland: “There are no guarantees in sport. We’ve won this year but the minute the referee blows the final whistle, that’s when the 2013 season ends. I know from speaking to other managers, they’re already setting themselves up for the 2014 championship. We’re probably behind now already.”
On losing to Donegal in 2014, his only Championship defeat: “They controlled the ball very well and put us under a lot of pressure and went hard at us. They took their goal chances and that’s a credit to how they set themselves up.”
On Darragh Ó Se’s claim that to get at Diarmuid Connolly you only need to pull his tail: “I learned a long time ago that when Kerry talk about other counties, I take it with a pinch of salt.”
On Dublin’s A v B training games: “Those games are not far off Championship intensity. It’s very hard to replicate Championship intensity and I don’t know a team that could get to that exact level but those games we play are not far off it.”
On his previous job in the Defence Forces: “I would have been a flight instructor in the Air Corps so that’s teaching. Coaching is really teaching, the same principles and methods of instruction apply. I’ve used a lot that I’ve learned in aviation in terms of instruction on the training field because there’s lots of synergies there. It’s the same thing, you’re training people.”
On The Sunday Game’s handling of Diarmuid Connolly’s clash with a linesman v Carlow in 2017: “There’s freedom of expression and opinion, and it’s an important part of our constitution, an important part of the Republic, but it’s not absolute. You can’t attack somebody’s good name unwarranted and I believe it wasn’t warranted in this instance.
“It was the bile and the malevolent attitude that certain broadcasters went after him with.”
On maintaining a happy panel or, as he often put it, an esprit de corps: “You can see we have 30 players pushing really hard for 26 slots and then 21 for 15.
“That enthusiasm is still there, that energy is still there. That esprit the de corps has always been their strength over the last number of years and is rock solid. That’s the foundation they’ve built everything on.”
Asked about Mick Bohan saying he must only sleep a few hours a night: “(I get) What I need. One thing the military gave me — and they gave me a lot, I’m very grateful for the time I spent in the uniform of Óglaigh na hÉireann — is that ability to sleep because you were sleeping, as a cadet, in trenches or standing up even. So I’ve no problem sleeping, absolutely none.”
Before the 2018 Leinster final on Taylor Swift playing at Croke Park: “They are an outstanding grounds team in Croke Park and no doubt they did their very best but probably the administration doesn’t help them by putting them in that situation in trying to turn that pitch around in six days. When did she finish, last Saturday? Demanding. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain.”
On Stephen Cluxton (left) and the goal he conceded in the drawn All-Ireland final to Kerry: “I saw it the day after the drawn game, him spending two hours on the pitch with Evan Comerford and Michael Shields, the goalkeeping coach. He had a bloody laptop, trying to replay in slow motion what way his feet and positioning were. That’s somebody who is a master of his craft. Through that example, he inspires people around him.”