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Saturday 10 December 2016

Volunteers key to Blue wave - Jayo

Jason Sherlock was in attendance as Leinster GAA and GPA announce a coaching initiative for retired players at the GAA Centre in Abbottstown. Pic: Sportsfile
Jason Sherlock was in attendance as Leinster GAA and GPA announce a coaching initiative for retired players at the GAA Centre in Abbottstown. Pic: Sportsfile

Ask Jason Sherlock if Dublin's success is all down to money, and numbers, and massive management teams ... and he'll soon put you straight.

Jayo experienced the best of times (as a teenage All-Ireland winner in 1995) but far more of the worst of times during his long and distinguished career in Sky Blue.

He has spent the past two seasons as forwards coach to Jim Gavin's all-conquering Dubs - a period that has yielded two league titles, two Leinsters and two All-Irelands. A pristine 100pc record of achievement.

Sherlock, though, is just one cog in a very extensive backroom team wheel, the size of which generated recent media debate when 23 non-playing Sky Blue personnel posed for the camera on the Croke Park pitch to celebrate Dublin's All-Ireland replay triumph against Mayo.

"In relation to that picture," Sherlock is quick to clarify, "I think Jim's father was in it and maybe two or three members of the county board.

"But any one that was in it are volunteers as far as I know, excluding Bryan Cullen (who actually doesn't appear in the photo).

"I don't know how many volunteers are with other counties. All I know is I was asked by Jim to see if I could assist and I'm happy to do it. I don't know what's going on elsewhere.

"I understand there is always going to be that debate about Dublin and all that, but as far as I'm concerned, it was the same situation when I played. We had the biggest population, the biggest resources - but we didn't have success."

Which begs the question: are Dublin producing a greater array of stellar footballers today simply because they are more organised?

"You'd have to look at that as a contributory factor," says Sherlock, who goes on to explain how he got involved with the Dublin development squad system three years ago.

"I asked others I played with to get involved and, probably to a man, they agreed to give their time."

They are all working as volunteers with the U14 and U15 squads.

"We have Dave Henry, Declan Lally, Paul Griffin, Paul Casey, Brendan O'Brien and a few others as well. When I picked up the phone they were happy to play their part and contribute. That's nothing to do with resources - they are people who are proud to have played with Dublin and want to give something back," he explains.

Sherlock was speaking in Abbotstown, where the GPA and Leinster Council announced a partnership to assist former inter-county players in securing GAA coaching awards.

"I just met Jim for a chat and he wanted to get me involved," he says, recounting how Gavin approached him two years ago. "At the end of my (playing) journey, I would have gone back to college with an MBA in DCU, through the GPA, and then I would have done a coaching course - in DCU as well.

"I was getting into that space anyway and, for whatever reason, Jim got in touch with me. That's why I want to promote (this initiative) … there are opportunities for former players.

"Obviously, you'd need to speak to Jim in terms of why, because getting a guy who had no coaching experience was obviously a big step for him. But I'm glad he did it. It just shows you that any former player … sometimes you forget that you do have value to offer."

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