Stay and face the considerable challenge of retaining the title, while in the knowledge that failure to do so risks tainting your managerial legacy.
Leave and avoid the temptation to build on what you have started, removing the prospect of watching your team develop as champions. For players and supporters, it’s a no-brainer. The man who filled the managerial hotseat is unequivocally backed to stay in charge as they want the good times they have witnessed to keep on going. Departures are greeted with shock as evidenced by the reaction when Liam Sheedy stepped down from his post with Tipperary last year, just weeks after steering the county to the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
In that sense, it’s easy to imagine there is a great sense of relief in Dublin GAA circles today at the decision of Pat Gilroy to commit to the senior football cause for another term. The St Vincent’s man led Dublin to the first All-Ireland since 1995 this season and it’s instructive to realise where the team have come from. It’s just over two years ago since Gilroy watched his startled earwigs trampled into the ground by a powerful Kerry performance. Suffering a 17-point defeat in an All-Ireland quarter-final is a harrowing experience and the rehabilitation project thereafter was as daunting as it was difficult. Yet Gilroy worked hard at the coalface and was rewarded when Brian Cullen grasped the Sam Maguire in the Hogan Stand, just 25 months after that meltdown to the Kingdom.
The re-appointment of Gilroy is a key development for Dublin football, not least when county board chairman Andy Kettle’s utterances on Sunday about the lack of a viable Plan B should Gilroy have decided to walk away.
If that eventuality had materialised, then the uncertainty over the management position that has prevailed in recent weeks would have been exacerbated. Suddenly the momentum generated from Dublin’s victory in September would begin to dissipate and doubts would begin to emerge about their 2012 prospects.
But the news that Gilroy is to remain in situ brings a huge level of reassurance. The culture of excellence that he fostered in recent seasons will remain in place, that rapport between management and players already exists, and there will be a view in the Dublin squad that they can continue the progress they made this year with the major pillars of the set-up still intact.
Gilroy’s managerial credentials have been affirmed by decisions like utilising Kevin McManamon effectively from the bench this summer, solving their free-taking difficulties by assigning that duty to Stephen Cluxton, introducing a greater work ethic in a star like Bernard Brogan by picking him in defence for in-house training games last year, curbing the disciplinary problems encountered by Ger Brennan and transforming a player like Paul Flynn into one of the leading half-forwards in the country.
He has taken a team that were accused of being flaky and fragile into one that are termed solid and dependable.
The decision of Gilroy to stay on will be received rapturously by the Dublin players. After all he’s the man that lead them to the Promised Land. Why would they have wanted him to walk away now?