THE end came quick, sooner possibly than even Pat Gilroy had expected. And once Dublin players received notification of a hastily-arranged team meeting early yesterday, they feared immediately that the man who had brought them to the summit less than a year ago was going to exit the managerial stage.
Very few managers arrange a debriefing session just three days after their All-Ireland exit, particularly when several of the squad are away on holiday.
Moments after losing to Mayo on Sunday, Gilroy insisted: “I’m not even sure what I’ll be doing next week, never mind next year,” but the ramifications of a hectic professional life have forced him to face the reality that his stint as Dublin manager would have to come to an end.
“There was some development in his job where it was firmed up that he would be doing quite a bit of travelling next year and I think that tipped the scales,” county board chairman, Andy Kettle told the Herald, admitting that he had been “shocked” by the news when it was delivered to him by Gilroy in a phone call last night.
Asked whether the St Vincent’s man was disappointed at having to make such a decision, the chairman Kettle: “I'd say emotional would probably be a better way of describing it. It wasn't face to face, it was over the phone. But he did sound emotional.”
A number of the panel were not present at the meeting last night as they were on a pre-arranged holiday on Spain, one of whom, Paul Flynn told the Herald he was “devastated” to hear the news. That sentiment is thought to be shared by the entire squad.
Kettle released a statement to the media in which Gilroy thanked the players, his management team and the Dublin board, finishing with the line: “I will give my full support to the incoming management team if required and I would be pleased to assist the Dublin GAA Board if requested at some time in the future.”
Gilroy, it seems from those words, would be open to the prospect of taking the job at some point in the future but for now, the focus turns on Jim Gavin.
Four years ago this November, the king-makers in Dublin surveyed a fairly barren capital landscape for a viable replacement for Pillar Caffrey and came up with the name of a managerial novice from St Vincent’s, a thoughtful and ultimately inspired appointment.
Now, there is ready-made, double All-Ireland Under 21 winning manager waiting in the wings, one who had intimated to Kettle he would be available to take on the Under 21 job again next year if required.
“There would be several candidates but there would be one in particular, who we would be certainly talking to,” Kettle admitted, adding that the county board’s management committee would meet on Monday night in an attempt to sew up the appointment as quickly as possible.
“It's better to get it done now,” he explained. “It could have other ramifications as it goes along the line.”
“There is a huge spirit, a huge determination and a huge camaraderie within that squad. It's a young squad and Pat is leaving a legacy that hopefully can be developed further.
Kettle added: “The team that won last year's All-Ireland and the team that togged out in this year's semi-final I'd say has an average age of 23 or 24 years or age. There is no old men on the squad.
“There is a lot more left in that team. For example, against Mayo, Ciarán Kilkenny started and the other Under 21s called into the panel were in the match day squad.”
Pressed whether he knew of Gavin’s intentions for next season and whether he would be available to take the senior job if required, Kettle replied: “I was at a funeral there last week and somebody asked him was he going to take the Under 21s and he said he was. We're not going down any cul de sacs at the moment.”