| 9.2°C Dublin


THE perfect year? Pat Gilroy, for one, doesn't agree.

The manner of the succession of victories which finally brought Sam Maguire back on a decent length skite in Dublin may have been storybook, but the manager is adamant that there is better to come from his team.

And after agreeing to man the trenches in their first defence of the All-Ireland in 16 years, it is very much 'his' team.

Gilroy is certain -- and indeed thankful -- that Dublin were lucky this year, both in their ugly, ugly victory over Donegal and the day the whole of the capital shook when Stephen Cluxton nonchalantly stroked that free over the bar, thus sealing the cup in the most dramatic fashion since Seamus Darby's shove on Paidí ó Sé in 1982.


"In one sense, we rode our luck in the semi-final and final," he told the Herald. "So the challenge for us is to improve in a number of areas. Our use of possession in both games at times was bad. So there are a lot of things that we need to improve.

"I think there are loads of things that we can do and loads of things that we wanted to do that we didn't get a chance to do this year.

"There is plenty of opportunity to bring different things to the occasion.

"We're a team that there is plenty of exposure to so it's not like we can hide a whole pile either.

"But because you are All-Ireland champions, people will spend more time looking at you. So you need to improve everything that you're doing.

"At the end of the day, people might know what you're doing but if you do it well enough, there is nothing they can do with it."

However, he returns to the theme of luck like a man who already has plans to discard it as a crutch in the not-too-distant future.

"We would all be realistic in that we can't expect our luck to go the way it did in the last two games again," he noted.

"I don't think we got to the place where our performances were what we were fully capable of. We haven't hit a pinnacle yet in terms of our performance.

"And the players felt that, too. They were suggesting that they could do much better than that.

"There were times when we did it in training and it was really impressive, but I don't think we've brought it onto the championship stage yet."

'Yet' being the operative word, of course. Gilroy's acceptance of another term is a massive boost to the group, the supporters and the county board. But it is also testament to the ambition of the squad.

As footballing feats go, though, retaining an All-Ireland in the modern era is about as difficult as it gets. Lip-service about future intentions is cheap. Finding the hunger and the effort for a renewed quest to the promised land just months after a stay there can be difficult in the extreme.

"Within a week or two of the game," he explained, "we were meeting the players out socially and there was no sense from anybody that they had achieved their lifetime's ambition.


"Guys were talking about wanting to win more and push on and what more they can do. I wasn't surprised because they're that sort of group. But there was no sense of a hunger being sated. These guys wanted more very soon after having won it."

How big a factor that was in his own decision, only Gilroy knows. But be sure that he wouldn't be inclined to hang around for a lap of honour.

That he has only agreed to one more year is, according to himself, down to outside influences but he reiterated that he wasn't limiting himself to just 2012.

"I can only give a one-year commitment," he explained. "The economic situation we are in changes by the week. That's the fact.

"I couldn't commit to longer than that. That might change in a year's time but I just couldn't do it for a longer term than that.

"It will depend on what is happening in the outside world. Things are changing by the week so I have to be very conscious that that is what pays the bills and that has to be the primary concern always."