Saturday 7 December 2019

'Burn your trophies' - Jim Gavin reveals some of the secrets to Dublin's success two days before stepping down

Jim Gavin stepped down as Dublin manager after seven seasons in charge. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jim Gavin stepped down as Dublin manager after seven seasons in charge. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Urging his team to “burn their trophies” at the end of every season and reading books on motivational theories were just some of the secrets of Jim Gavin’s success as Dublin manager.

Gavin made the revelations at the KPMG Irish Independent Property Industry Excellence Awards, in what turned out to be one of his final interviews as Dublin manager.

"Obviously we have some key performance indicators," Gavin said last Thursday, just two days before he announced his decision to step down as Dubs boss. 

"We have got a high standard of performance we try to aspire to and really that is what drives us on. I always say to the players as well at the start of every season, that we have to burn our trophies. Past success does not guarantee that you are going to win the competition again.

"I’m a big reader of motivational theories. Charles Handy, Sigmoid Curve, where you have to break things up. And the paradox in aviation and sport is that sometimes the learning is in the failure.

"And it’s having that open growth mindset, even if you win. In the Dublin football team we have never achieved perfection, there is always something to go after and improve upon. And that relentlessness and the humility the players have to understand that probably makes it very easy for me to work with them."

Gavin also confirmed that he has never spoken to his teams about winning, instead preferring to focus on preparation.

"I’ve been involved managing teams for 12 years. I managed the Dublin U21s for five and I’m into my seventh with the senior team and I have never mentioned winning or said that we have to win this game or competition. What I’m interested in is the process of performance even though that might sound quite bland.

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"If you get your preparation and performance, generally speaking the result will look after itself."

Gavin heaped praise on his players, insisting that what they did in their time away from he Dublin set up was at least as important as what they did when they were with the squad.

"In sporting context if I have players for three hours every second day - then the other 21 hours are so important. So the preparation are in the mundane parts of the day, how players decide to rest, what they eat, what their recovery is like.

"All those small things in the shadows of victory that people don’t see, it’s that small attention to detail .. if you look after the small things the big things look after themselves … the discipline the players have that’s a key component of sports performance."

When it was put to him that Dublin were odds-on to win six in a row, he responded: "I see incidents and accidents every day in aviation. All we will do is prepare our best for the season ahead. For the moment we are grateful we had success again this year and we are enjoying it while we can and living in the moment and when January 1 comes around we’ll look on the season then."

Two days later, he shocked the GAA world and stepped down.

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