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Sunday 19 November 2017

Pat: 'It's very hard to say 'no' to things when you're asked'

New Dublin senior hurling manager Pat Gilroy pictured during an O’Byrne Cup game against Carlow in 2012
New Dublin senior hurling manager Pat Gilroy pictured during an O’Byrne Cup game against Carlow in 2012

Quite how it all came about, Pat Gilroy wasn't inclined to be specific.

As it happened yesterday in Croke Park, a prior commitment meant Gilroy was the last person into the room where AIG and the GAA co-launched this year's Fenway Hurling Classic, an event that doubled conveniently as his first official appearance since being appointed to the role no-one expected.

And until he arrived, you still half suspected that maybe the whole thing was a hoax.

Pat Gilroy as Dublin hurling manager.

It might take until January, when he stalks the sideline in the Walsh Cup before we fully recognise his code fluidity.

So. Did the Dublin county board come with up with this idea or did he contact them?

"You should ask them that," he smiled, disinclining to retrace his meandering managerial footsteps.

Later, however, Gilroy outlined his devotion to Dublin GAA and how: "I've got so much from both that giving back, it's very hard to say 'no' to things when you're asked."

Naturally, Gilroy was asked to produce his qualifications.

"I would have played hurling and football for Vincent's, all the way up to minor," he outlined.

"Then I went straight senior with hurling first; I was Junior B with football.

Inhibitions

"And I played two games then with the senior hurling team. Got on then to the Dublin under-21 football panel - and I never played hurling again - from when I was 19.

"I would have had to put so much effort in to try and stay in a county set-up that I just didn't have any time for hurling. But I would have enjoyed them equally on the way up."

Gilroy isn't the sort to doubt himself so we knew the answer to the next question anyway but still, it seemed pertinent to ask whether he had any inhibitions about taking a job managing a senior inter-county hurling team having never played the sport anywhere near the elite standard.

"A lot of people would argue that I didn't play football at a top level either," he half-joked.

"I was on the pitch the odd time. I wouldn't worry about that."

Nor was he perturbed about the highly technical nature of his newly-chosen game.

"There is not an awful lot of technical stuff that we're going to be adding to these guys," Gilroy countered.

"If you look at them playing technically, they are all very, very capable

"There are 50 hurlers in Dublin when you're watching the club championship who are technically very competent.

"It's about bringing that on to a different level for sure. But a lot of it is their mindset, their physical conditioning, their diets - all the package.

"There are a lot of similarities.

"There are a lot of guys who were maybe considered in the public eye as football guys who added a lot to hurling teams. Mick (Dempsey) in Kilkenny, he added a lot to the background.

"People might have seen him as a footballer. He probably played as much hurling as a kid, as football.

"You learn a lot. I would have played 14 years of hurling. You're seeing things. You do pick up a lot if you're watching the game as well," added Gilroy.

"If I had a choice, and there was a hurling match on and a football match on, I might have watched the hurling match for the excitement of it.

"It's not something I would be overly concerned about."

The term 'cultural architect' has been used about Gilroy and his influence on the current tsunami of Dublin football success but he was at pains to point out yesterday that a manager can only empower players so much.

"I think culture is a very complex area. You give me credit for that and that's great, I'll take credit every day of the week because you get enough knocks in life," he stressed.

"But those players created a culture in themselves. There was a dynamic that was created by individuals coming into that squad - maybe because of certain attitudes we were looking for.

"Yeah, you can influence it - but it's there."

"But," Gilroy added, "this team will have a different culture to the football team."

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