Pat Gilroy: ‘If GAA really wanted to have dual players it could’

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Pat Gilroy took over the Dublin hurlers.

Dublin manager Pat Gilroy, right, with selector Anthony Cunningham before the AIG Super 11s Fenway Classic Semi-Final. Pic: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

After all, the man who managed the Dubs to Sam Maguire in 2011 always wanted to hurl for his county.

“I would have preferred to be a Dublin hurler than a Dublin footballer but I wasn’t good enough. At the time, the hurling was a game that I preferred all the way up playing it. But I wasn’t as good as I was at football.

“There were more chances with the football. That’s something that irritates me because even with my own kids, they probably choose football at times because they think they are going to get success where they don’t see the chance of success with the hurling. I don’t mind if they play football or hurling as long as they are doing it for the right reason.

“Getting that in play in Dublin, where people are making the decision, on what they are better at rather than what they will win at; if they had the choice, maybe it would be healthy. We can be a proper dual county.

“With the resources that have gone into it, it can be achieved. I would always fancy my chances at doing something in hurling from a long time ago but never really got that involved.

“I did a bit with juvenile teams alright. When you are in Vincent’s, if you are doing the football you end up doing the hurling too. This present group, there is a huge amount of talent there. With the skillsets that we have and the skills they have, we will do something good.”

Is it feasible for players to play both codes?

“If the GAA wanted to have dual players, they could set the fixtures out so that dual players could play,” says Gilroy.

“But if you look at the fixtures, there are going to be clashes all the time. It is very difficult but it is possible. I don’t see why in past generations people were able and they can’t do it now.

“However, the fixtures now dictate if a guy is going to miss out on an important Leinster match or an important All- Ireland match.

“It just doesn’t make sense. But I think it would be physically possible. A lot of these fellas who are in college and that are free for the summer, so there is no reason why they couldn’t play both games. Nearly all of our panel and a good few of the football panel play hurling. Pretty much everyone here plays football with their club.

“If the GAA really wanted to have dual players it could have it but they are making it hard with the fixtures are set out.”

Gilroy has “had a lot of conversations with a lot of people individually” in terms of players coming and going from the Dublin panel in recent seasons but adds: “We have to have a clean slate going forward. There are so many different things that have happened over the last three years and some beyond anybody’s control.

“I always believe the past is perfect because you can do nothing about it. It’s about the future but you do need to learn the lessons from the past. We have analysed a lot of the games last year. Anything that could go wrong in some of those games went wrong. Sometimes that happens.

“The players are human and when things start to roll against you, everything seems to roll against you. You get bad refereeing decisions, or you get bad decisions by teammates that wouldn’t normally do it.

“I found in that Tipperary game there was a lot of good things earlier on in that game from a Dublin perspective. But then just little things started to turn against them and goals went in. I don’t think that scoreline justified where the team was really at last year.

“You have got to pick the good out of it as well as the bad. There is a lot of good, a lot of young guys came in last year and stood up very well in a lot of the games. There were a lot of positives as well as things that need to be learned.”

Gilroy has brought in former Galway boss Anthony Cunningham to build on those positives.

“I know Anthony a long time myself on a personal basis. I would have followed what he did in Galway and would have been chatting through different things, through the football, he was probably doing the hurling at the time.

“I got to know him very well and he was always a guy that I would have liked to have worked with. He was very keen to support us. Anthony brings a huge amount of experience.

“It’s interesting that he also has the football and hurling side of things.

“We are all talking similar languages in that we are talking GAA rather than one sport or the other.”


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