Posted by Ciarán Whelan
Monday 10 September 2012
I was surprised by Pat Gilroy’s decision to step away from the Dublin job. I figured that having thought long and hard about it last year and deciding to stay on that he had a longer term project in mind.
We’ve seen in the past how difficult it is to replicate the success of the previous year and have that same hunger and desire to go and do it again. I believed last year when they won it that there was another All-Ireland in the team but there was a hangover there that carried over into this season.
I didn’t necessarily expect another win to come this year but I felt that there was enough talent in the squad to capture another Sam Maguire in the next couple of years.
To a certain degree, Gilroy’s tenure was a rollercoaster. It started off very badly in 2009 when they lost to Kerry and then in 2010 Meath beat them out the gate. Dublin limped through the qualifiers but there was a turning point during that season when he tried to evolve a defensive system.
It almost worked when they came close to turning over a hotly fancied Cork side and that gave the players the belief in the system, which they took into 2011. That win was founded on hard work, determination, and the willingness of players to cover for each other and move the ball quickly to forwards who were on top of their game.
So he deserves credit for all of that. He has set the foundations there for further success for whoever comes in. That won’t be me. With my personal commitments and family life it’s not the right time. Whether it’s something that comes along further down the line, who knows.
I believe you have to cut your teeth in management, build up your experience and treat every day as a learning day. I think that Jim Gavin is the man for the job right now.
He has won two All-Irelands and was involved in the backroom team in 2003. He knows the scene and the players coming through and it’s probably the first time in 15 years there’s been an outstanding candidate who can slot comfortably into the position.
A few of the appointments have come from the left of centre over the years but Jim deserves the chance to come in now based on the reasons above and on the success he has enjoyed with the under-21s. It’s a tough job if he gets it because the guy who takes over will always be compared to the previous manager, and in this case the previous manger has an All-Ireland to his credit.
It’s a big challenge for the new man, especially if he decides he wants to change the system and has to get on board players who were successful with a previous method of play. Some of the current players won’t wear the Dublin jersey again because there will be changes. It’s a nervy time also for players because they don’t know what the new man thinks of them and they will have to prove themselves all over again.
THERE HAS BEEN a lot of talk throughout this Championship campaign about the current format. I think the provincial championships have gone stale and this year’s ones have done nothing to change my mind on that.
The Championship only kicks off in July when the qualifiers start and when the association is competing with so many other sports it’s time to realise the product we put in the shop window must be of a higher standard.
We have to be brave and look at whether we’re getting a return out of the league and provincial championships. I don’t believe that we are so I would propose running the provincial championships earlier in the year on a league basis instead of the current league.
I would run it over Wednesday nights and Sundays over a shorter period with the top five teams in each province qualifying for a Champions League format. We’d have to redraw some of the provincial boundaries and have eight teams in each league but I think it could work because from the start of the year every match matters when the aim is to finish in the top five.
It would mean retaining the essence of a provincial championship but there would be the opportunity for more novel fixtures and it would freshen the whole thing up. Every game will have that bite and intensity where it matters from the start of the year.
I don’t think, though, that there are that many problems with the game. Of course there are elements that need to be addressed including the cynical foul, for example. There will be a few quick wins to come from the Football Review Committee that the GAA will have to look at.
We’ve had two great semi-finals but earlier on there wasn’t the equivalent excitement there so I would rate it overall as an average championship. The last two games have brought it to life and we have a novel final to look forward to so it’s been reasonable and I don’t think it’s as bad as some people portray it.
I THOUGHT THE Galway-Kilkenny game was fantastic but I’ve a feeling Galway may have missed their opportunity. The Cats looked to be the stronger team in the second half and I’m not sure that Anthony Cunningham’s side will enjoy as good a first period the next day as they did on Sunday.
One thing I would say is that there is an opportunity there now, especially with the current financial woes affecting so many people, to show a bit of gratitude to supporters and lower the ticket prices for the replay.
It’s a big bonus for the GAA that it ended in a draw. It will be another great weekend for everyone but there is obviously the cost factor associated with that so I hope they make the right decision and help the fans out a bit with the costs associated with the replay.
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