Thursday 25 December 2014

'Humbled' Gavin caps a year to remember

Published 12/12/2013 | 23:31

Jim Gavin collects his who was presented with the Philips Sports Manager of the Year prize to become first Dublin boss to claim the accolade
Jim Gavin collects his who was presented with the Philips Sports Manager of the Year prize to become first Dublin boss to claim the accolade

When Jim Gavin reflects on 2013, it wasn't the actual trophies -- league, Leinster championship and Sam Maguire Cup -- that will stand out in his memory.

Instead it was seven poignant, magic minutes in the Croke Park dressing-room following the presentation of the All-Ireland trophy and the lap of honour undertaken by the players.

Gavin had a chance to review his remarkable debut year as Dublin boss as it ended on another high note when he was named Philips Sports Manager of the Year in Dublin yesterday.

The Dubs boss revealed the most enjoyable moment was that brief interlude, when the doors were closed, and the room contained only the people who were most involved in the epic journey through the 2013 campaign.

"The most satisfying moments for me anyway were those few minutes after the game, when you close the dressing-room doors," he said.

"There were no external intrusions. You just want to reflect, and let the players bask in their success because it is about them. They're the guys who sacrifice so much for their sport.

"It was just myself, the management team -- Declan Darcy, Mick Deegan, Shane O'Hanlon, Michael Kennedy -- all the back-room staff, support team, county board officials and the players.

"It was just a special moment to have that six or seven minutes before the mayhem commenced. It was nice to reflect together on the season, particularly that they set themselves such high goals, and it was good to see they got their success."

But even in that special time on Sunday September 22, with all the emotions of achievement -- joy, happiness, relief -- bouncing around the room, Gavin underlined the unique quality of those minutes together on that great occasion.

The thrust of his message was: "enjoy it, we will probably never be all together in a room again."

It was not a threat -- just facing facts and a message to seize the moment for its own merits.

"That's the crux of it. I've been involved for years with Dublin U-21 teams. I played myself, so I'm conscious of how things can change," he said.

"Players can retire, some will get injured, some players lose form and just can't make it back up there again. Some players will get form and will push themselves into the squad.

MISSING

"Even for the medal presentation there was one player missing. That night another player had to leave early because he had to work the next day, so those seven minutes were special moments for us to spend some time together."

Gavin's award made him the first Dublin manager ever to receive the Manager of the Year prize in the 32 years of the scheme's existence, and he is the first Gaelic football manager to receive it since Mickey Harte in 2005.

"I'm very humbled to get it. I didn't expect it. But now that we have it, it's testament to the management team first of all in Dublin," he said.

"It's not only myself, it's Declan Darcy, Mick Deegan, Shane O'Hanlon, Michael Kennedy and there's a host of guys in the back-room support team that are there to facilitate players and their ambitions.

"Above all it's probably a good reflection of the hard work and dedication of the Dublin senior football team and their commitment, their passion for Dublin football and their resolve throughout the year."

On January 5 the new season begins for Dublin with an O'Byrne Cup fixture in Mullingar against Westmeath, but right now Gavin prefers to keep everything low-key.

The Dubs boss would not be drawn on speculation that goalkeeper and captain Stephen Cluxton might retire, and is not indulging in any talk about their prospects of retaining the Sam Maguire Cup.

"We don't go back collectively until the end of the year, that's the rule that has been imposed on us by Croke Park so as a squad we can't meet up.

"Until we do meet up as a squad I can't make any announcements in that regard. With the Dublin GAA family, it's been a good year. The hurlers had fantastic success this year and we wish them the best for next year.

"And for ourselves it's a time to look back as well, try to repeat what we did, and obviously there are lessons along the way that we need to improve on.

"At elite level in Gaelic football there are a host of teams that can challenge for the Sam Maguire and 2014 will be no different in that regard.

"There are no guarantees in sport and there will be no guarantees in 2014."

Irish Independent

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