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Friday 14 December 2018

Boss appointment is key for Dubs to drive on - Chris

Crummey thought Gilroy's fateful call was to organise training

JERSEY BOY: Dublin hurling star Chris Crummey was on hand yesterday to help Dublin GAA
and sponsors AIG to launch the new Dublin jersey in Dublin. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
JERSEY BOY: Dublin hurling star Chris Crummey was on hand yesterday to help Dublin GAA and sponsors AIG to launch the new Dublin jersey in Dublin. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Chris Crummey readily accepts the significance of the next big decision facing the powers-that-be in the Dublin county board.

Not surprisingly, the 2018 Dublin hurling captain doesn't reveal any personal preference pertaining to their next manager, be it Mattie Kenny or Anthony Daly or Anthony Cunningham or some other leftfield alternative.

But it's "very important", he agrees, that the people overseeing the process make the right call.

And equally important that they do it quickly, given the logistics of preparing a team for league combat at the end of January and championship battle from the second weekend in May.

Uncertainty

It was a different series of calls that prompted this whole uncertainty in the first place.

Pat Gilroy's resignation was like a bolt from the blue last month - for players and not just the public.

"He just called us," recounts Crummey, speaking at the launch of Dublin GAA's new jersey.

"He told me he was the first person he called as captain.

"Pat's the type of fella he really doesn't do text messages. He'll speak to everyone and I'd say he had a long day ringing 32, 33 fellas.

"From chatting to lads, you could see the amount of respect they had for Pat as a manager and that's the sign of the man - that he would rather ring them than let them find out or text."

BIG DECISION: Anthony Cunningham (l) and departing manager Pat Gilroy. Photo: SPORTSFILE
BIG DECISION: Anthony Cunningham (l) and departing manager Pat Gilroy. Photo: SPORTSFILE

His initial reaction when his name popped up on the phone?

"It was funny," he says. "I thought, 'Aw, here we go, training next week'.

"But unfortunately it wasn't the case. I had a great chat with him. Pat is as disappointed as we are.

"He loved the job and he was dying to go again.

"It's just unfortunate. His career is so important to him and, at the end of the day, there are more important things than hurling and it's only a hobby.

"The same way it's a hobby for us and, with the sacrifices and commitments, you need to be able to give 100pc and he just wasn't with his work.

"It's unfortunate but you never know -he could be managing Dublin hurlers or footballers again in the future if work allows."

A follow-up question causes Crummey to clarify that Gilroy himself said nothing to indicate any such comeback.

"That's just me," he admits.

His now-former boss had handed Crummey the armband for his one and only season.

To see Gilroy depart so suddenly "did come as a shock, but it was obviously something that Pat didn't just do on the spur of the moment".

Crummey adds: "He had known about it for a long time and he had tried to make it work between the two of them (job and hurling) but it just got to the stage where that was impossible.

"His work situation was that he was going to be away out of the country for two and three weeks at a time and was going to be away more than he'd be in Ireland.

"I suppose the demands of inter-county management now are such that you have to give it 100pc and, if he can't, he's not going to do it.

"I had a good chat with him and I know that he did everything he could to make it work; he didn't want to tell us about it until he knew that he couldn't.

"As I said, nothing has changed too much although new management is coming in. But we're still the same panel and taking the same positives into next year."

Still, Dublin's sole All Star nominee this year is acutely aware that everything stems from the top.

Troubled

His county endured enough player comings (and more often goings) during Ger Cunningham's troubled three-year tenure to appreciate the imperative of getting the right manager installed now.

One who can build on the progress that manifested itself in Dublin's performances - if not quite the results - during the Leinster round-robin group last May and June.

"Every year it's very important but, with the momentum we feel we have, it probably does make it more important," Crummey accepts.

"Because we know how close and how fine the margins are between winning and losing.

"A manager coming in that can bring us to the next level is just so important, just to build on what Pat did and all the great work that the management team did last year."

Still, even as captain and the public voice of this year's squad, the Lucan powerhouse isn't seeking any player input into the selection process.

"There's a selection committee there in the county board and we have faith and trust in them that they'll make the right call," he says.

"Have they contacted me? No. It's the same process as last year and I presume that's the way it will work again."

Would he prefer an input?

"It doesn't bother me. I have faith in the county board and the selection committee that they'll make the right call."

But Crummey goes on to stress: "It is important that it's made as soon as possible because with the new championship structure in place, you want to be peaking for the start of May rather than other teams who are peaking for later on in the year.

"Maybe that places more emphasis on November, December to get that work done. As soon as possible would be great."

As a group, he acknowledges, they were "obviously disappointed to lose such a great manager like Pat".

"There are loads of positives in terms of the players and the panel that are there: the new lads who were brought in and the older lads who came back.

"There's definitely a great panel there for a new man to come in."

One final positive to finish on: if Limerick can emerge from the pack to lift Liam MacCarthy, why not Dublin?

"If you look at Limerick the previous year, I think they played Kilkenny in a qualifier and lost," Crummey points out.

"I know they obviously had the U21 success but no-one would really have picked them or tipped them to go and win the All-Ireland like they did.

"It gives every team (hope). In my opinion there are six or seven teams on a similar level that on any given day could beat each other, which is brilliant for spectators.

"And brilliant for players because we know that if we can up our levels, we can beat anyone ... it's wide open."

Let's hope so.

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