WHEN the Dubs beat Kerry on the third Sunday of September last, Pat Gilroy joined an elite group of men who have tasted All-Ireland SFC glory as both a player (1995) and manager.
In reaching the Holy Grail he was following in the footsteps of, among others, iconic Dublin GAA figures and fellow St Vincent’s men Kevin Hefferan – who won an All-Ireland SFC as a player in 1958 and manager in 1974 and ’76 – and Tony Hanahoe – who triumphed as a player/manager in 1977.
However, Gilroy believes that there is no comparison between the level of application of current players and what was required to reach the top during his playing days.
“It is very different. The players now don’t really have a down season. They are all always tipping away at something. The commitment given to things like diet now is incredible. It has moved on a lot in the last 15 years,” he concluded.
Whether or not he will manage those same players’ commitment in 2012 is not certain yet, but speculation is growing that Gilroy will remain at the helm if his employers Dalkia give him the ‘green light’ – and talks are scheduled for next week.
“There are people coming over from Paris next week and I will sit down and discuss things with them,” he said.
“They (Dalkia) have been very good to me over the last three years giving me the time off I needed. No decision has been made yet,” added Gilroy who revealed to the Herald that managing the Dubs is a “50 or 60-hour-a-week job”.
Dublin fans will be hoping that ‘Giller’ remains at the helm and can then lure selector Mickey Whelan out of retirement.
Whelan announced in the aftermath of the All-Ireland triumph that he would be stepping down from his role in the Dublin backroom team and Gilroy has nothing but praise for his management colleague.
“Mickey brings so many things to the table,” he mused. “He has coached in a number of sports. He brings a multitude of skill sets and mind sets to the set-up.
“It is a complete package with him. He has probably got almost 50 years’ coaching experience. You won’t get that anywhere else.
“Mickey made a few comments but I think that we will all sit down collectively and decide what we are going to do.
“But he owes nobody anything and he has been a great servant to Gaelic football. If he did decide to go we would have to respect that.”
That’s all for the not too distant future. This week a dozen of Gilroy’s players were included among the GAA GPA All Star nominations.
The exclusion of team captain, Bryan Cullen, raised eyebrows in some quarters but his manager does not think that those left out will be perturbed by their exclusion. “The most important thing is that they have an All-Ireland medal and everything else is periphery.
“They are nice to have but it’s a team game. Getting medals is what it’s all about. They (All Stars) are not important in the overall scheme of things. Everyone has their opinions but I don’t think any of the lads will be too concerned about it.”
Fittingly, Gilroy was in attendance yesterday at Croke Park for the book launch of ‘Can You Manage?’, Tim Healy’s in-depth analysis at management in Gaelic football. Throughout his term as Dublin supremo, much has been made of the defensive strategy that he adopted – something never before associated with teams from the capital.
Indeed, considering its obvious success, there has been talk of implementing the system across all grades of Dublin inter-county football, starting at development level.
It is an idea that Gilroy would appear to embrace, though he stressed that each manager should be able to bring his own ideas to the table.
“We conceded a lot in big games in 2008 and 2009,” he explained. “A feature of our big games over the years was the high scores we were conceding. It (the defence) was where we had to start and we could build from there.
“We did a lot with the minors this year regarding sharing some of the resources. It could be an approach and it does make sense to have some combination but I think it is important for the individual to be able to put their own stamp on things.”