Dubs can seize sam - Gilroy
PAT GILROY has every belief that Dublin footballers can win another All-Ireland in his absence. This is not a source of regret that he won't be there to share the dream, for one simple reason - staying on was not an option.
"With work I just had to give up," explained Gilroy who, for four hectic years, juggled his day job as MD of Dalkia Ireland with the most high-profile 'pastime' in Irish sport, that of managing Dublin.
"I got busier and I'm starting to do some work over here (in the United States). So it was kind of an easy decision - it was out of my own hands. I knew from the middle of the summer that this was going to be my last year."
He was speaking in New York where he has managed the 2011 selection on the GAA/GPA All Stars football tour of the Big Apple.
The irony is that, while Gilroy's double-jobbing life could no longer continue, his managerial counterpart in New York is all set to embark on his own very demanding dual project.
Asked about the difficulties now facing Donegal's Jim McGuinness as he takes on his new role as a performance coach with Celtic FC, the former Dublin boss demurred: "He's just working. That's his job and it's an amateur sport, so you have to pay the bills.
"I don't think it'll make any difference to him. He's a well-organised guy anyway. The travel part might be a bit difficult for him eventually, but I don't think it'll be a big problem for him, to be honest."
The difficult part for McGuinness will entail unearthing the elusive secret of Sam Maguire retention. Contrary to statistical trends, Gilroy rejects the notion that achieving back-to-back football titles is Mission Impossible - with one caveat.
"It might be difficult if you've won your first (All-Ireland) and then try and retain it. But if you've got through that experience of little things that maybe dropped, standards-wise - even ourselves - you learn from those," he reflected.
"I think Donegal will be doing very well to retain it. It is difficult when you haven't been in that position before, but I think if you've won and you lose one, then you can really go and win two in a row.
"Even chatting to the Dublin lads over here, they've learned a lot from the last year. I think if they take those lessons forward, they're well capable of winning another one," he added.
"They're a very young team apart from one or two guys.
"A lot of them are in their early 20s so they have a lot to offer. They're a very honest and genuine group. They always give of their best so, if they keep doing that, they probably will win another one or two, if they keep their focus."
Gilroy has now passed the Sky Blue baton to Jim Gavin, a former teammate and "very capable guy". If the ex-boss has regrets about his swansong campaign, it's all the small things that added up to an unsuccessful title defence.
"If (Mayo goalkeeper) David Clarke had a glove an inch smaller, we would have got through to the final," he ventured.
"I could say there's 20 small things that happened this year. There was probably 15 that happened last year and you get by ... but I think we never really got playing until the last 20 minutes of that Mayo match."
Even if they had overcome Mayo, he is uncertain whether Dublin could have halted the Donegal juggernaut.
"Who knows," Gilroy demurred. "I think Donegal were in a mode that they were going to be very difficult to beat by anybody this year. They didn't really have a bad performance."
And next year?
"I think there's any one of probably eight to 10 teams that genuinely believe they could win the All-Ireland next year. The team that has worked the hardest off the pitch, I would say, has won the last three All-Irelands. That gives hope to a lot of people."