Workload made decision easy for Gilroy
Last Saturday marked Pat Gilroy’s final match for the foreseeable in charge of inter-county players.
Having taken charge of the 2011 All Stars in their unsuccessful tilt against this year’s award winners – although Dublin players on the team provided a good send-off by scoring seven of the team’s eight goals – the manager who returned the football All-Ireland to Dublin for the first time in 16 years spoke about his decision to step down after four years.
“With work I just had to give up. I got busier and I’m starting to do some work over here so that meant I couldn’t do it, so it was kind of an easy decision, it was out of my own hands.
“I knew from the middle of the summer that this was going to be my last year. I’d like to have stayed on a bit longer but four years was a long enough stint as well. You just have to move on.”
After the highs of 2011, this year proved a disappointment with Dublin losing their All-Ireland title in September’s semi-final against Mayo after a summer during which they had struggled for form.
That defeat was the campaign in microcosm: poor performance for so much of the match but nearly redeemed by a final-quarter surge.
“If David Clarke had a glove an inch smaller we would have got through to the final,” said Gilroy, “so it’s very small things and I could say there’s 20 small things that happened this year but then there were probably 15 that happened last year and you get by with them so there was a lot of little things.
“I think we never really got playing until the last 20 minutes of that Mayo match. We played some of our best football in the last two years in that period but, look, the effort that was put in was huge. The lads really put in a massive effort this year and they weren’t too far away but they would have learned a lot from it.”
He said that he had been in touch with his successor, former under-21 manager Jim Gavin, to pass on statistical records and logistical information and believes that there are further titles in the panel.
“I think so. They’re a very young team apart from one or two guys. They have a lot to offer. They’re a very honest and genuine group. They always give their best so I think if they keep doing that they probably will win another one or two, if they keep their focus.”
Gilroy disagreed that it had become almost impossible to retain All-Ireland titles – a feat that only Kerry have managed in the past 22 years.
“No, I don’t think so. I think it might be difficult if you’ve won your first and then try to retain it but if you’ve got through that experience of little things maybe that dropped, standards-wise, even ourselves, you learn from those and if they won another one it is possible to win one after that.
“Donegal will, I think, be doing very well to retain it. It is difficult when you’ve been in that position before but I think if you’ve won and you lose one, then you can go and win two-in-a-row. That’s more likely than a team that just comes up for the first time.”