The soft trap-door, Declan Darcy calls it. Ask how he and Jim Gavin came to be joined at the hip on the Dublin sideline and he’ll tell you it was Tommy Lyons who did the welding, sparks and all. After Lyons’s first year in charge of the Dublin seniors had ended with an All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Armagh, he decided there would be changes. Darcy and Gavin’s names were on those changes.
“He gave us the soft trap-door from our inter-county careers,” he laughs. “The non-answerable question. ‘You’re going – you can go this way or that way but you’re going.’ He gave us the opportunity to train the 2003 under-21 team which was brilliant, especially beating Tyrone in the final. That kicked it off really.”
Lyons had his name above the door but Gavin and Darcy were the ones who ran the business that year. They came back and got handed the keys in 2008 and such was their success that when Gavin went for the big chair this time around, there was no question but that Darcy would be coming with him.
The demarcation lines are squiggly enough but in general he and Mick Deegan work with the defence and leave Gavin and Michael Kennedy to drill the attack. After a semi-final that saw Kevin O'Brien and Ger Brennan gone by half-time and three goals on the board, Darcy has had plenty of work to do.
“The last day was the first day we conceded three goals. The lads just have to get up and get on with it, it’s as simple as that. Because the train ain’t going to stop for anybody, so they need to decide to scrub themselves down and get on with it. That’s what they need to do. They’re fantastic players, they’ve done very little wrong previous to this.
"Every player has his blips and how you react to the bad days is how good a player you are. I've no doubt they will because they're very strong, tough players and I've no doubt they'll bounce back and get on with it. It's an All-Ireland final, they're very lucky to be where they are and they just have to push on."
Darcy knows he's lucky too. He played intercounty for 14 years but his biggest day was the famous Connacht final win with Leitrim in 1994. All he ever wanted was to make an All-Ireland final and now he will, at Gavin's right hand.
“We’ve had one, maybe two nights, where we could go for a quiet pint and just relax but it’s been such a roller-coaster ride. There’s always something else from week to week. He’s put huge work in and there’s so much to be done.
“We have to work harder than everyone else. We have to set the tone for the players. They need to see what we’re doing and we have to work harder than Mayo as well. We know that. (Jim) does that, he sets the tone, his work ethic is phenomenal. So, chill out? No, maybe in two weeks’ time.”