Dublin's future is bright – Gilroy
PAT Gilroy knew from mid-summer that the completion of this year's championship would bring the end of his stint as Dublin manager after four years in charge.
He had hoped it would coincide with Dublin winning the All-Ireland double for the first time since 1976-'77 but Mayo ended the dream in the semi-final.
"With work commitments, I just had to give up the Dublin job. I got busier and I'm starting to do some work over here (America) so that meant I couldn't continue with Dublin. It was an easy decision in the end, it was out of my own hands," said Gilroy, who returns from New York today after managing the 2012 All Stars in an exhibition game at Gaelic Park on Saturday night.
He helped deliver Dublin's first All-Ireland title for 16 years in 2011 which was quite an achievement but success is a never-ending pursuit so the disappointment of losing the semi-final to Mayo this year is still acute.
"If David Clarke (Mayo goalkeeper) had a glove an inch smaller, we would probably have got through to the final. That's the way it goes. We never really got playing the way we wanted until the last 20 minutes of the Mayo match.
"We played some of our best football of the last two years in that period but had left ourselves with too much to do. But look, the lads put in a massive effort again this year; they weren't too far away and will have learned a lot from the experience," he said.
Gilroy said he had been in touch with new manager Jim Gavin and believes the transition will be smooth and effective. He is also confident that Dublin will be genuine All-Ireland contenders over the coming years.
"It's a young squad overall. A lot of them are in their early twenties and have an awful lot to offer. They're a very honest and genuine group. I think that if they keep going, they probably will win another one or two (All-Irelands). Jim's a good guy, he'll work very hard at the job.
"There are probably any one of eight teams that would genuinely believe they could win the All-Ireland next year.
"It comes down to the team that has worked the hardest off the pitch. For the last three years, the team that worked hardest won the All-Ireland. That gives hope to a lot of people," he said.
Gilroy wasn't surprised by Donegal's relentless march to All-Ireland glory this year.
"The signs were there the year before. They were in a different place than everyone else this year in that they put a number of very strong performances together in the championship. They didn't really have a bad performance – everyone else's form was up and down. They were the form team right through the championship," he said.
Dismissing claims that modern-day team management brings unbearable pressure levels, he said he never experienced that.
"When you're out there with the lads, it's pure enjoyment. If I was managing an under-10 team in Vincent's I'd want them to win a championship match. It's the same whatever team you're with – you want them to win. I can honestly say that I really enjoyed my time with Dublin. It was a privilege to be involved," he said.
Good time management is essential for team bosses, an area where Gilroy worked extremely hard to succeed.
"Lads aren't really contactable much during the day, you have to deal with them outside of business hours. It meant that football never interfered with work but you have to be organised because you have a limited window to get hold of lads," he said.
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness will face major organisational challenges as he continues in his role with the county team while also working on a part-time basis for Celtic. Gilroy expects that he will combine both roles quite comfortably: "He's a well-organised guy. He knows that he's doing," Gilroy added.