Former Dublin boss Jim Gavin named Signify Sports Manager of the Year
Gavin guided Dublin to a record fifth-straight All-Ireland SFC title before standing down
Jim Gavin has been named Signify Sports Manager of the Year for 2019. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
There have been 37 winners of the Signify Sports Manager of the Year award since 1982, but only once in 135 years can there be what Jim Gavin achieved.
The announcement that the recently made former Dublin football manager was the outright winner for 2019 was greeted at the InterContinental Hotel without the slightest element of surprise or opposition, only the universal recognition of what Gavin had accomplished: the first manager in the 135-year history of the GAA, in either football or hurling, to win a fifth successive senior All-Ireland title.
It neatly bookended Gavin’s seven years in charge of Dublin, which concluded last Saturday morning when he gently stepped aside, given he also picked up the outright manager of the year award after winning his first All-Ireland with Dublin in 2013.
There can only ever be one first five-in-a-row, and for all his attempts to credit the team of players and management around him, Gavin’s own name will forever be most synonymous with that.
Not that it ever came easy, Dublin’s 2019 All-Ireland arguably the hardest earned of the lot, old rivals Kerry forcing them to a replay, before Dublin prevailed 1-18 to 0-15.
That earned Gavin the monthly award for September, following on the heels of All-Ireland hurling winning manager Liam Sheedy, who won the August award after Tipperary’s win over Brian Cody’s Kilkenny.
Sheedy was also a previous outright winner in 2010, when he denied Cody what Gavin achieved in 2019: that first and elusive five-in-a-row.
Asked somewhat cheekily might he ever come back into management with a view to winning another All-Ireland, Gavin quickly detoured back to the success of 2019.
“I’m just proud of this moment, and very humbled, with the quality of coaching and managers in this room, to be selected,” he said.
“And particularly the Dublin football team, because that’s really who I represent. I just happen to be at the forefront of the management team, but we have a very player central approach, and a unique group of men, both on and off the field, that keep us very proud as sportspeople. So just a very humbling experience.
“But after every campaign, after every championship run, you have to reflect upon the season that is gone. I took that time to deliberate on what is best for my family, my work and obviously the football team as well.
“The conclusion I came up with at the end, was that what was best to allow the team the space to grow again was for me to simply hand the reins on.”
Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald was also honoured with the June award after securing a first Leinster title since 2004, and the most recent winner was Sean Dancer, Ireland women’s hockey head coach, who last month secured team Olympic qualification for the first time.
Among those in attendance was Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy, Olympic Federation of Ireland chief executive Sarah Keane, with Minister for Sport Brendan Griffin - who presented the awards - also paying tribute to all those who volunteer on sidelines throughout the country.
He said: “As I travel around the country, meet so many different people, so many communities, I get to see what a positive difference sport makes, in all our lives, and for those involved at community level, the volunteers, it changes all our lives, and a special tribute to those people who work so hard behind the scenes, very often with very little thanks, and sometimes some criticism.”
2019 monthly winners
December: Mickey Graham - Mullinalaghta St Columba’s GAA football manager
January: Mark Byrne - Coach of Courtyard Liffey Celtics Ladies basketball team
February: Terry Hyland - Leitrim GAA football senior manager
March: Willie Mullins - Champion jumps trainer for the 12th time
April: Gordon Elliott - Trainer of Tiger Roll, winner of the Aintree Grand National
May: Mark McCall - Director of rugby at Saracens
June: Davy Fitzgerald - Wexford GAA senior hurling manager
July: Neil Manchip - National coach of the GUI
August: Liam Sheedy - Tipperary GAA senior hurling manager
September: Jim Gavin - Dublin GAA senior football manager
October: Vinny Perth - Dundalk FC manager
November: Sean Dancer - Ireland women’s hockey head coach