Dublin expect to have Jim Gavin successor in place by the weekend

Either Gilroy or Farrell the likely successor to all-conquering former boss Gavin

Jim Gavin: his decision  to leave was taken towards the end of last week and only communicated to players and officials on Saturday morning. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jim Gavin: his decision to leave was taken towards the end of last week and only communicated to players and officials on Saturday morning. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Despite Jim Gavin’s resignation having come as a surprise to all concerned, Dublin will hope to have his successor installed by the end of the week.

A county board management meeting is due to take place on Tuesday night, at which only two names will be considered to take up the post – Pat Gilroy and Dessie Farrell.

Sources indicate that Gilroy is likely to be given first refusal on the job he held between 2009 and 2012. Having had to step down from the Dublin hurling job at the end of 2018 after just one year due to work commitments, the feeling in the Dublin brains trust is that Gilroy is probably unlikely to be able to free himself of his duties this time around either.

But given what a transformative figure he was the first time around – not to mention the progress the hurlers made in his one year on charge – it is a question worth asking.

That said, a more likely scenario is that Farrell will take up the job before the week is out.

Having managed the Dublin minors to an All-Ireland title in 2012 and subsequently guided two different sets of under-21s to titles in 2014 and 2017, Farrell has long been considered a kind of conveyor-belt successor within Dublin circles. He managed Na Fianna in this year’s Dublin championship, where they were unlucky not to knock out the eventual winners Ballyboden.

Over the course of a slightly surreal weekend, it has been established just to what extent Gavin’s announcement took everyone by surprise. By many accounts, this was not something that was in the pipeline for months. It was a snap decision taken towards the end of last week and only communicated to players and officials on Saturday morning.

The most plausible explanation that has been offered for the odd timing of the move is work-related. The prospect of a promotion has recently opened up in the Irish Aviation Authority and Gavin couldn’t combine the Dublin job with a putative one at the top of the IAA. No ordinary person could combine the job he currently has with the Dublin one, but even Gavin’s powers of organisation don’t stretch this far.

Had the new job opportunity not come up, he would have stayed on. For the past two months, an eighth year in charge had been his intention. One source close to the situation yesterday characterised it as Gavin really not wanting to leave but feeling he owed it to himself, his work and his family to do so.

Different course

Certainly, the news and, more pertinently, the timing of it took the higher-ups in the Dublin County Board totally by surprise. Gavin sent a text on Friday evening out of the blue and arranged a meeting at Dublin Airport on Saturday morning at 10am. It was all done very quickly and unfussily.

From there, he went to the Inishfails GAA grounds on the Malahide Road where the playing squad had arranged to meet to have their five-in-a-row photograph taken. What appeared to be a routine gathering took on a different course when Gavin addressed the group.

The players were stunned to hear the news, having assumed like everyone else that once he hadn’t announced his departure in the aftermath of the All-Ireland final replay, he was good to go for 2020.

Whoever the new manager turns out to be will find Christmas coming and going in the blink of an eye. Dublin play their opening match in the 2020 National Football league in just 54 days. In between times, they have a team holiday to go on and the end of year awards and dinner dance circuit to negotiate.

Having entered a third-string team in the O’Byrne Cup in recent years, they have decided not to play in it at all this time around.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Dublin players and officials generally went to ground yesterday, returning apologetic texts to any and all inquiries. Interestingly, a workaday press engagement that had been lined up for Jack McCaffrey to attend on Monday was cancelled at teatime on Saturday.

As it happens, Gavin himself is likely to be the first out of the blocks to speak in public about the whole thing, as he is expected to be in attendance at the Philips Manager of the Year Award ceremony in Dublin on Thursday. The audience will be all ears.

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