Dublin county board meeting outlines process to replace Gavin
Pat Gilroy and Dessie Farrell remain top of the list of possible replacements
Dublin county chairman Seán Shanley has denied that Pat Gilroy (left) has been given first refusal to take over the Dublin football job after Jim Gavin’s stepping down. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
The Dublin county board remain intent on appointing a replacement for senior football manager Jim Gavin with the same swiftness of decision which marked his departure.
However, there has been some indecision around exactly when that process began, county chairman Seán Shanley insisting that no discussion – informal or otherwise – had taken place ahead of Monday night’s previously scheduled meeting of the Dublin management committee.
Without any warning, Gavin stepped down on Saturday morning after seven seasons in charge, during which time he delivered six All-Irelands, including the last five in succession. Among those considered to be in contention is his predecessor Pat Gilroy, the St Vincent’s clubman who managed Dublin from 2009 to 2012, delivering their first All-Ireland in 16 years in 2011.
The purpose of Monday night’s meeting, according to Shanley, was to begin that process: management committee would get permission off the county committee to seek a new manager, and with that allow three of the management committee “to talk to the individual people, see who is interested and get their views, who they’d be thinking of bringing in with them”, he said.
However the suggestion that Gilroy will be given first refusal may be premature: “There is no truth in that,” said Shanley. “We certainly haven’t talked to anyone or even discussed it among ourselves. Tonight’s management meeting will be the first time it will be discussed.
“We haven’t spoken to anyone yet and I don’t know whether Pat’s even interested or not, but we will be speaking to everyone that is interested.”
Once the management committee announce their preferred candidate, that name must still go before a full meeting of the Dublin county board for final ratification.
In his earlier statement on Saturday morning, Shanley also indicated the committee was only now beginning that process: “I regret his [Gavin’s] departure but appreciate the huge sacrifices he has made over this period. The committee will commence the process of considering suitable candidates to replace Jim and his management team shortly.
Gilroy did come back to county management with Dublin in 2018, when he took charge of the senior hurling team, originally on a two-year term, before stepping down after one season, citing work commitments. “Unfortunately my work commitments involves a considerable amount of overseas travel and it will not be possible for me to continue in this role,” he said at the time .
It’s not clear exactly if those work commitments have changed, and in the meantime Dessie Farrell remains the other leading contender, having already taken charge of the Dublin minor and under-21 footballers in recent years, and also delivering All-Ireland titles in both grades, one at minor, two at under-21.
Indeed, of the 2019 Dublin senior squad, some two-thirds would already have played under Farrell at either minor or under-21 level. Farrell did recently commit to another season as manager of his club Na Fianna, although that’s unlikely to be any obstacle to his potential Dublin appointment.
“We have to talk to all the ones concerned,” added Shanley. “We’ll get word of who is interested and it only takes a phone call then to confirm if you are interested or you’re not interested.”
What is certain is that whoever does take over from Gavin can look forward to an opening match of some significance, with Dublin opting out of the upcoming O’Byrne campaign, despite getting a bye into the semi-finals. That means their first outing in 2020 will be against Kerry in the Allianz National Football League Division 1 – a repeat of this year’s All-Ireland SFC final – under lights at Croke Park on Saturday, January 25th.
Gavin, meanwhile, is still expected to be in attendance at the Signify Manager of the Year Award ceremony in Dublin on Thursday, a strong contender for one more outright award to mark his send off.