Realism as much as success is a calling card of Pat Gilroy’s. When Dublin’s Blue Wave strategic plan in 2012 announced the target of an All-Ireland senior football title every three years he claimed it was “not practical”. Five years on and Dublin have added four more crowns. He’ll happily wear that egg on his face.
The same document also set out the goal of one All-Ireland every five years for the senior hurlers, something which they haven’t come close to achieving. Cue the introduction of Gilroy. As much as he is not promising the sun, the moon and the stars, he still has high hopes.
“It’s a great challenge. The thing for Dublin is to try and become a top four team consistently. We’ve been in and out of that the last 10 years. There is so much hurling happening in the city that we should be pushing to be up there on a more consistent basis.”
Gilroy’s ambition is more performance-orientated: “If you get the best out of them, that’s all you can ask for. I think if Dublin were getting the best out of themselves in the last performance of the year then we’d be in semi-finals and finals more regularly than we have been. That’s my simple philosophy.
“If you look at it, you’d say we should be in a top-four on a more consistent basis. We’ve flittered in and out, Dublin has done well because we don’t have the tradition.
“When you’re trying to break through with something, you’ll be nearly there and then you’ll fall back down and get back up again and I think people who are playing hurling in Dublin are a resilient bunch. They will get back up again.”
At yesterday’s launch of the AIG Fenway Hurling Classic in Boston on November 19 (where he will make his debut as manager) Gilroy said he doesn’t intend on upsetting Jim Gavin and attempt to pilfer dual players like Diarmuid Connolly, Ciarán Kilkenny and Con O’Callaghan.
“If you watch the club championship and you see guys like that playing, they’re struggling playing hurling. They don’t stand out necessarily. I have a very good relationship with Jim Gavin, I have a very good relationship with football, I don’t intend to mess up football by doing something like trying to negotiate guys into doing something that maybe they don’t even want to do.
“I see it that we have two Dublin teams, one plays hurling, one plays football, the relationship should be a good relationship. I think Cork manage to do that quite well, there’s a lot of open discussion between managers so I won’t be going talking to anyone behind Jim’s back or anything like that.
“There might be guys at the end of his panel that he’s looking to move on and they might be interested in wanting to play hurling. But I only want guys who really want to play hurling in terms of... like, I’m open to a dual guy if some fella can miraculously do it when you produce the fixtures but I just want people who really, really want to play for Dublin hurling, to play. And they can come from anywhere as far as I’m concerned.”
Gilroy hopes to finalise his management team by the weekend where he will also present a plan to the county board, which will include details of the next three months and beyond as well as thoughts on a training base.
“We have some suggestions that we’re going to present to the county board because I think it is important to have a consistent base.
“You might even want to have two that you can work off, for certain times of the year. It’s not good for a team to keep moving around, the logistics of it, or even just the camaraderie of it are difficult when you don’t have that specific base.”
The St Vincent’s man is enthused about the changes to the senior hurling championship – “Championship games – you just can’t beat them. So getting more of them and getting them more consistently, I think that has to be a good thing for any team, not just Dublin but for any team.”
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