Dublin great Barry Cahill reckons the odds of both Jim Gavin and Stephen Cluxton remaining in their positions beyond Sunday’s All-Ireland final are only ‘50-50’. Cahill, a former All-Ireland winner and All-Star, predicted that, win or lose against Kerry, ‘four to five guys’ could retire and that boss Gavin and captain Cluxton could call it quits.
Gavin is in his seventh season managing Dublin and while he agreed in December to stay on until the end of the 2021 season, Cahill reckons the Clondalkin man could easily walk away in just weeks.
Paul Flynn has already quit the playing group this year, leaving a host of 30-somethings in his wake including Cluxton (37), Bernard Brogan (35), Eoghan O’Gara (33), Kevin McManamon, Diarmuid Connolly, Michael Darragh Macauley and Darren Daly, Paddy Andrews, Cian O’Sullivan and Philly McMahon .
“You’d probably expect four to five guys that could retire,” said Cahill. “The big one for me would be Stephen Cluxton. When will he retire? How does his body feel? How motivated is he in terms of continuing after potentially getting that five-in-a-row milestone, which would be absolutely huge?
If Stephen decides to call it a day over the winter, that could be a massive shift in terms of the whole dynamic around Dublin being All-Ireland contenders and also there’s the Jim Gavin factor.
“I know Jim extended his agreement with the county board in the early part of the year but that’s not anything contractual or solid really, in terms of going forward. Himself and Declan Darcy have been there involved with teams going all the way back to 2003.
“At some point, it’s going to take its toll on you. So that’s a possibility, that could take place over the course of the winter. If you took the management team finishing up and Stephen Cluxton retiring at the same time, I think the gap would close naturally enough going into the 2020 season.”
Asked how likely he thinks that is, Cahill said: “I would say 50-50, in my opinion.”
Cahill rejected the idea that Gavin and Cluxton could agree to stagger their departures, to minimise the disruption to the team.
“Whether they’d be able to plan it in that manner where they’d have a staggered exit, I would say that’s unlikely,” he said. “It certainly wouldn’t be ideal from a Dublin perspective if they both left at the one time, but I’ve sort of been saying it the last couple of years that I think the gap will only start to close when one or both of them leave. A Stephen Cluxton retirement or a Jim Gavin exit would give a lot of other counties a little boost.”
Cahill said that if Gavin does leave, former minor and U21 boss Dessie Farrell would be favourite to replace him though suggested that Jason Sherlock may wish to also.
“I wouldn’t rule out that Pat Gilroy could be a possible successor to Jim Gavin either, whenever Jim does exit,” added Cahill, who won his All-Ireland under Gilroy in 2011.