DR PAT O'NEILL has saluted Pat Gilroy for sticking to his guns after Dublin's early-summer Leinster traumas, with the result that the Sky Blues now find themselves within 70 minutes of a first All-Ireland final appearance since 'the Doc' himself was in charge.
O'Neill chaired the three-man sub-committee that originally recommended Gilroy for the Dublin managerial vacancy in October, 2008 - a decision that is now bearing fruit at the business end of a roller-coaster second campaign.
"He is very organised, he is very structured, he is a smart lad," O'Neill told the Evening Herald. "He doesn't get carried away. He is a realist. He has made the changes that were obviously required, and those he has brought through have been very impressive."
O'Neill was the last Dublin manager to bring Sam Maguire back to the capital, with Gilroy part of that victorious 1995 squad. Such an outcome, 15 years later, appeared a million miles away at the end of June - even though the former boss argues that they weren't as bad as the 5-9 to 0-13 Meath result would suggest.
"When you look at the Wexford match and the Meath match, one would have to say it has been great progress," the former manager outlined, even though he saw signs that the team was "evolving and progressing" even during that ill-fated Leinster campaign.
"In the Meath match, anything that went wrong went wrong for Dublin - and anything that went right went right for Meath. And it seemed there was a major differential between the teams, which ultimately has been shown to be incorrect," he reasoned.
Dublin's subsequent rehabilitation was crowned by their quarter-final defeat of old nemesis Tyrone. "A great performance, a very confident performance," O'Neill agreed. "But I think you have to look at it in terms of what Cork did to them last year ... Tyrone were well beaten by Cork last year. You could say Dublin beat Tyrone well this year, but when you look at it with a critical analysis, Tyrone certainly are not the team that they were. There has been a certain degree of attrition there," he added.
SEAMUS McENANEY has hinted that he may walk away from his role as Monaghan manager after county board delegates voted to invite nominations for the post -- contrary to the executive's earlier backing for 'Banty' to be handed a three-year extension.
"Do I wish my name to go forward and perhaps be part of a 'competition' for the post I have held for the last six years? Well, that's a prospect I will now have to think very carefully about," McEnaney said in a statement.
DAN SHANAHAN has called time on his 13-year career as a Waterford hurler with a thinly-veiled attack on manager Davy Fitzgerald.
"He never came up to me and said why I wasn't playing. I was going well in training, but obviously the management didn't think I was. That's their decision and I'll have to live with that. I was disappointed with that," said the 2007 Hurler of the Year.
Shanahan also criticised Waterford's semi-final game plan against Tipperary last Sunday, saying: "They definitely knew our tactics. It's hard to play against a team who know what's going to happen."
WATERFORD whistler Michael Wadding will referee his first All-Ireland SHC final between Kilkenny and Tipperary on September 5, while Anthony Stapleton of Laois will take charge of the minor decider between Kilkenny and Clare.