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Shifting sands of Leinster

IT'S been a busy couple of months for the football kingmakers in most of the county boards across Leinster.

Six of the 11 competing Leinster counties will have new men at the helm in 2013 -- a relatively huge turnover - and already, the relevant and topical noises are being made.

"My goal is to create a team that is imbued with an ethos that puts winning for the team and the county ahead of individual glory," were the considered words of Jim Gavin at his media unveiling last week, proving articulation to be one of the many characteristics he will bring to one of the most comprehensive and wide-reaching roles in Gaelic games.

"The goal for me is to create an environment within Dublin football where I can get the best players ... to get a group of players that will have an ethos of hard work and commitment and sacrifice."

By virtue of Dublin being Dublin, Gavin's is the appointment most centrally in the spotlight and he's also the one with the greatest level of experience and success, a new departure for Dublin from previous appointments - but not necessarily a proven formula for senior glory.

Meath's Mick O'Dowd has big ideas too, but also perhaps, a significant road to journey before he arrives at Gavin's starting point.


"I feel very strongly we need spirit and unity and when that's 100 per cent right you can move on to questions of tactics," he mused shortly after his appointment, the fifth man in the Royal throne since the abdication of Seán Boylan.

Outside of Meath, O'Dowd is a relative unknown, yet no less so than Pat Gilroy prior to 2008.

Little too is documented nationally about new Wexford boss, Aidan O'Brien, and even less so of Emmet McDonnell, Offaly's new ringmaster, although their sideline credentials are more comprehensive than say Aidan O'Rourke and Anthony Rainbow - recently appointed in Louth and Carlow respectively - men who enjoyed celebrated playing careers but for whom experience of management has been isolated to brief sojourns as selectors.

It's at least seven months before anyone can be fully sure whether their new man is the right man but if the Gilroy/Jim McGuinness/James Horan model is the new template for the modern appointment rather than a brief trend, the young, vibrant, educated manager is the one now most in tune with the requirements for glory in the modern era, rather than the wily, intuitive ones of old.

In that context, the fresh faces on the Leinster sidelines in 2013 are part of the new wave of football gurus, even if their tenures will be measured by vastly different yardsticks.