John O’Leary enthusiastic about Dublin manager succession process

Former Dublin All-Ireland winning captain from 20 years ago is not surprised by success of Jim Gavin

When John O'Leary is asked about managers he has fair experience to fall back on. Dublin's All-Ireland winning captain from 20 years ago and five-times an All Star goalkeeper made his debut 35 years ago next month in a very modern selection coup by Kevin Heffernan.

Former corner-back Mick Kennedy had taken over from the retired Paddy Cullen that year and had played in the first championship outing against Meath. Instead, before throw-in Kennedy was switched to fill the AN Other slot in defence and O'Leary, a year out of minor, was the "late change".


When his career ended 17 years later he was on the same team as current




Jim Gavin

and had also played with

Pat Gilroy

– the two players who would go on to manage Dublin to All-Irelands a generation later. “It is part of the DNA,” says O’Leary who has himself managed Wicklow, “about the regeneration of footballers as managers. “It’s a circle of life that goes on and no doubt there’ll be fellas from the last two All-Irelands will probably go on to be managers at some stage. So no, I’m not surprised. Maybe surprised that some have done as well as they have, you know, ‘Jaysus, I didn’t see that in them when I was playing with them’.

“Jim was a serious guy, an intelligent fella; Pat Gilroy too. Paul Curran (who took Ballymun Kickhams to an All-Ireland club final) was a great fella too but when you were playing with him he was a messer. But all these fellas have the talent and the experience and when they apply themselves they can be really focused.

He is enthusiastic about the succession process, which has seen Gavin graduate from winning under-21 All-Irelands to senior management and has under-age coaches and former team-mates Dessie Farrell and Paddy Christie poised for the future. “What you’re trying to do is bring a style of football through the development squads. Part of that continuity is at a management level so whether Dessie is the manager or Paddy Christie comes in, I think it’s a great way to build your planning.”

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times