| 17.4°C Dublin

Gavin urged to give young guns a chance

JIM GAVIN made his reputation as a consistently high achiever with the best emerging football talent in the capital. Now the new Dublin senior manager has been urged to place his faith in those very players this coming spring.

"He should have no fears about throwing these young fellas into the league. You have that opportunity in the first year, you get that bit of leeway to put your own stamp on it. There is no real pressure (during the league) in the first year, so it's a huge opportunity to blood these lads," said Paul Curran, who welcomed last night's appointment of a friend and former teammate with whom he soldiered on the road to Sam Maguire deliverance 17 years ago.

Now the challenge for Gavin is to replicate that 1995 success as a manager. As ever with a new Dublin supremo, he must deal with the pressure of great expectations but he certainly has the tools for this onerous task.

First up, he inherits a panel that knows how to win an All-Ireland (only last year) but also one with a point to prove after this season's failed title defence.

Secondly, there should be huge competition for squad places given that Gavin himself has managed Dublin to a brace of All-Ireland U21 titles in the past three seasons, 2010 and again this year, and that's before you even factor in a Sky Blue conveyor belt that has churned out All-Ireland minor runners-up and now champions in the past two Septembers.

Gavin's elevation to the Sky Blue hotseat -- the most open secret in Irish sport -- was confirmed by unanimous acclaim at last night's county board meeting.


On the same night that Anthony Daly was reappointed as senior hurling boss for a further year, the new football incumbent has been handed a three-year term to try and replicate the 2011 achievement of outgoing manager Pat Gilroy.

"If Jim Gavin can bring the success he had with the U21s at senior level, everybody would be more than happy," Dublin chairman Andy Kettle told the Evening Herald.

"Of course he was the logical choice to go talk to. But it's an amateur sport and the gloves had to fit both hands, his and ours."

Gavin's backroom team has yet to be finalised, although at least some of his U21 'lieutenants' are set to follow him into the senior set-up.

Like Kettle, Curran believes Dublin have got the right man.

"He is very organised. Everything is thought-out and planned.

"He is obviously very professional -- that comes from his working background in the army. Obviously discipline is going to be a big thing with him. I think he has all the attributes for this challenge," the Herald columnist declared.

"The other thing is he has the players too, because this bunch have already won an All-Ireland.

"They will certainly have some from the U21 success coming through, and maybe one or two from the minor success. There will be an injection of youth."

Gilroy had already introduced several U21 graduates to his panel last summer. Unfortunately the most prodigious of those talents and the one already fast-tracked onto a starting championship team, Ciarán Kilkenny, has now been lured by a new career in Australian Rules.

"A huge, huge loss," admitted Curran, but he expects others to get their chance to shine in the New Year.

"I think put your house on Jack McCaffrey getting plenty of game time. I think we might also see Dean Rock back and given another opportunity - he has been playing very well with us (Ballymun Kickhams) this year. It gives guys like him a new injection as well."

U21 skipper Kevin O'Brien (another promoted to this year's championship squad), Paul Hudson and even minor star Eric Lowndes are others who have caught the eye of Curran as potential options.

"There is a huge amount of talent coming through. We all know they all cannot make it -- history shows you only get a small amount of players from any minor grade to make it to senior," he reflected.

"The important thing is to get these fellas a taste of it, either bringing them into the panel like McCaffrey and O'Brien this year, but I would go further and give them a bit of game time ---- because there's no real pressure in the league (next year). I think it would be an opportunity lost not to do that."

As for the more established Dublin players, Curran remarked: "I'm sure they are disappointed that they never really got to the same levels - not even close - that brought them success last year.

"They will go at it again next year with a new voice, which is always a good thing. You will get a reaction from players, because they don't know Jim Gavin, they will be out to prove themselves all over again."