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Jim Gavin. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Jim Gavin. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Jim Gavin. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

THE association between Dublin football and DCU has run deep these past few years, evidently to the success of both parties, though one link in the chain has, by necessity, been broken; that of the college's director of GAA, Michael Kennedy, who stood down as one of Jim Gavin's selectors prior to the beginning of 2014.

On Sunday, he sat in Parnell Park amongst DCU's management team against Dublin and admitted afterwards it was "hard" to walk away from the Dubs, positioned, as they are, so pertly on the crest of a rapidly broadening wave.

"It's always hard," Kennedy conceded. "I have great respect for the lads and it's my life and soul, it has been for the last number of years. But something has to give at times. It was a big, big decision and a very difficult one."

The Tyrone native is now studying for an MBA as well as continuing his full-time brief as DCU's GAA Academy Director and thus stood down from Dublin at the same time as Ray Boyne, Dublin's long-serving head of performance and statistical analysis.

Kennedy previously played a behind-the-scenes role during Pat Gilroy's tenure, specialising on tactics and analysis, before becoming a senior selector under Gavin, with whom he had previously worked with the Dublin U21s.

"There's always hope that that chance (to be involved with a senior inter-county team) would come again," Kennedy said.

"Just for the moment, because I'm doing an MBA in DCU business school, that takes up a huge, huge amount of time.

"I do love inter-county football and I have been involved for quite a number of years. It's a big input but the door's always open. From my perspective, please God, someday I will get that opportunity.

"For now, the door is closed and obviously I will concentrate fully on what's going on around DCU as well."

Having recently been inside the tent, though, he is suitably optimistic about Dublin and their short-to-medium-term prospects.

"There's no team, I'm sure, that is going to be as well prepared going forward as Dublin," he asserted.

"The new players coming in are going to create an impetus and certainly they're going to push the established lads really hard.

"I think that's great for Dublin football, there's so much talent and so many good players out there that are going to get an opportunity.

 

PHENOMENALLY

"That's the secret, I think. Last year a lot of players came in and they got their chance and they stepped up. A lot of players who were in the panel last year developed phenomenally as well.

"No doubt the same is going to apply this year. There were some lads out there today, Eoin Fanning, (Daniel) Watson, these guys played really, really well.

"Jason Whelan, he's a phenomenal talent as well and he's going to get his chance.

"Shane Carthy, Cormac Costello ... Cormac was outstanding again (on Sunday). Obviously from our perspective, Conor McHugh as well, so these boys are going to really push the long-established boys."

Last year, Mick Bohan, another of the DCU management team, was utilised by Gavin as the Dublin senior footballer's 'skills coach', while Tony Diamond is another of the college's coaches with strong links to Dublin and more locally, St Vincent's GAA.

Previously, Niall Moyna worked with both 'Pillar' Caffrey and Pat Gilroy's administrations as trainer/fitness coach, though he now trains the Down senior football team managed by James McCartan.

On Sunday, in their defeat of Gavin's men in Parnell Park, DCU named a team with five Dubs aboard, while two more, James McCarthy and Dean Rock, watched from the terrace as their college and county did battle.

And while the current setup does not utilise the university's facilities to the extent that Gilroy did following their move to Martin Kennedy's National Athlete Development Academy, they still train in St Clare's, part of DCU's GAA complex.

 

EXPERTISE

"It's always there," said Kennedy of the link between the two. "Players on an individual basis do avail of it as students and do come in all the time and avail of the expertise that we have. We've got many different faculties and they are being used quite a lot in terms of best practice.

"That whole development perspective, we can see that relationship between Dublin County Board and DCU being developed quite a lot over the last few years.

"They help us out in terms of their best practice and obviously we try to align with them quite a lot as well, like the strategies that they've put in place over the last number of years. Obviously we're trying to do the exact same. But to have that marriage, you could say, it's brilliant."


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