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Gilroy: Now we start from scratch

WITH Pat Gilroy having recently being confirmed as Dublin manager for one more year, the onus on the St Vincent's clubman will be to replicate the verve and endeavour that marked last year's successful campaign.

A first All-Ireland in 16 years was just reward for those early morning training sessions and intensive efforts of the panel but replicating last season's success will see Gilroy sticking to his policy of selecting on form alone.

"There are guys that didn't play as much last year who are going to be more enthusiastic. Last year is over now and 2012 is the big thing.

"The fellas who put the effort in are the ones who are going to be rewarded with playing. It's as simple as that.

"The good thing about having such a competitive panel, as we finished with last year, is the hunger of lads that didn't play. I've spoken to lots of them and the big thing is them saying 'I'm going to push on'. That's a very healthy thing for us to have.

"Anyone who knows me is aware that teams are picked on form so there shouldn't be any complacency from anyone.

"I'd feel fierce disloyalty to all the members of the panel if I wasn't giving everyone the same chance.

"Equally, if there are guys whose form is dipping, then I may have to drop them from the panel and that's an equally hard thing to do. There should never be any question of a closed shop when it comes to the composition of the panel," stressed the 1995 All-Ireland winner. If Dublin are to retain the title Gilroy is well ware of the need to improve on last year's displays but feels that the benefits of coming through a succession of tight games last year will add to the burgeoning belief within the panel.

"The previous 16 years, it hadn't been done at all so it doesn't add to the pressure. We know that we can do it so that helps in that it removes the doubt. It's a matter of trying to repeat it and that makes it easier in one sense.

"I think in the semi-final and final we made more mistakes than we did in all the other games we played during the year so by no means was it the perfect year in terms of performance even if it was in terms of results," he said.

"Certainly, I think we only had one day where we probably hit the form that we think we can hit, against Tyrone, but outside of that there is plenty of scope for improvement but the lads know that.

"I think the fact the lads know that positions aren't sacrosanct, that has been our modus operandi since the start which helps as well," added Gilroy.

Attitude will of course be a key facet again but Gilroy could well add a number of players to his panel, with the O'Byrne Cup in January giving him the perfect opportunity to blood new players.

"We will look to strengthen the panel. With so many lads involved in colleges and other teams, perhaps as many as 15 of the 32 that we ended up with last year, that leaves you with 17 players. Naturally, that gives you scope to look at players.

"There were certainly five or six lads from the club championship who we'd like to sit down and get in contact with," he added.

One player unlikely to be included in any experimental panel is minor dual player Ciarán Kilkenny, who played such an integral role in Dublin's respective runs to All-Ireland finals in both codes earlier this year.

While acknowledging his undoubted talent, Gilroy seems reluctant to place such pressure on such young shoulders but will not rule out his involvement at a later stage.

"You've got to respect that a Leaving Cert year is a huge year in anybody's life and I think it would be unfair to ask to a guy doing the Leaving to get involved. Certainly, Ciarán has serious talent and if the minors had gone out early this summer, we probably would have brought him into the panel for the experience of it. He's an exceptional player and very big for his age and he is one of very few who could make that transition to senior.

"However, we have to respect the importance of the Leaving Cert but we might have a chat regarding what he's going to do after that," said Gilroy.



MOTIVATIONAL

Experimentation is likely to be restricted to the O'Byrne Cup alone with Dublin once again planning to treat the upcoming league campaign with due reverence, with the Spring Series a positive motivational tool according to Gilroy.

"We've made a concerted effort in the past three league campaigns but some results went against us in tight matches.

"We've always taken the league seriously and there will be no changing from that. Although I can't guarantee we'll get the results, we'll definitely be taking it seriously, like we have the last few years.

"It's great to see the Spring Series back. I think it helped both Dublin and the teams that played against us. Playing Kerry first-up (February 4) will focus the mind and it's a massive game so it should make training easier in January in terms of motivation."

Dublin's will of course be in action prior to then with their first outing scheduled for New Year's Day when they take part in the annual Evening Herald/Dublin Bus Dubs Stars challenge in Thomas Davis GAA club.

"I would encourage people to come out and we will have a strong representation. It's our first day back and I don't expect any of the 'big' players that we have will be missing and it's usually a good day out for everyone."

The Dublin manager was speaking at the launch of a new DVD, entitled 'Sam 11', and an accompanying disc named '6 Steps to Sam', which charts Dublin's successful championship campaign, which culminated in All-Ireland victory in September.


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