Colm Keys: 'One less distraction as Gavin insulates against talk of his Dublin future in 2019'
One morning during his two years as skills coach to Jim Gavin, Mick Bohan checked through his emails to see Gavin's name in his inbox. The time of delivery made him look again. It was 2.38am.
Bohan's tells the story as an insight into Gavin and the admiration for the job he continues to do as Dublin manager. Confirmation yesterday that Gavin will extend his involvement with Dublin by a further two years until 2021 will bring him to nine years at the helm, having already completed the most successful six years of any GAA manager.
No one, not even Brian Cody or Mick O'Dwyer, has come close to stockpiling titles at the same rate as Gavin's Dublin when their five league wins from six campaigns are factored in. He has built a team for all seasons that now looks set to last the best part of a decade.
Gavin's last extension came prior to the start of the 2017 championship when Dublin announced that he would stay in the job until 2019.
This latest news will have the effect of bringing certainty around his position amidst much speculation that with a fifth successive title next September he could use such a historic landmark, if and when it happens, to depart. Even if he does decide to go at that stage, his future is, for now, off the table, one less minor distraction that shields any perception of finality in the months ahead. There's good reason as to why he would stay on, even if a fifth in a row and sixth personally were achieved.
He enjoys it for a start, his schedule still allows for it and the prospects remain strong. After lowering the average age of the starting team in last September's All-Ireland final to 25 with the introduction of Eoin Murchan, Brian Howard and Niall Scully, following on from Con O'Callaghan a year earlier, Dublin are well placed to continue to dominate through the turn of the decade.
Bohan, Gavin's counterpart with the ladies team that landed a second successive title in September, doesn't know how he does it.
"You'd respond (to the email) and then (another) email would be back within half an hour. And you'd be thinking, 'When does he sleep? Where does the sleep process fit in?'" said Bohan at this week's LCPE online GAA resource announcement in Croke Park.
By then Bohan wasn't sure for how long Gavin would continue but it was a topic of discussion that is even more relevant after yesterday's two-year extension.
"He has been absolutely instrumental to all of this. In 16 years that I'm involved in Dublin football, between development squads, minor, U-21, seniors, nobody I have come across has the drive or the systematic approach that he brings.
"It's just incredible. And he never wavers. There's never... like, I go through, and I try to control it better now, massive lows when things haven't gone well and there's a serious high then when it goes well. He's just unwavering in his approach and I have not met anybody in Dublin or anywhere else who has brought the approach he's brought."
Bohan says he would never have any aspiration to follow in Gavin's footsteps as senior manager after watching the level of detail he brings to his workload.
"I happen to be managing the women's team but my forté is coaching and I don't pretend to be anything else. But obviously I don't have the same demands, I don't have to deal with the same number of things that he has to deal with.
"Even from the point of fundraising, and we do our own fundraising, and I know Jim has everyone in situ, he has people at all different levels but he manages the managers of those (elements). It's almost like running a mini-company. I don't know he does it, I really don't," he reiterated. By now Gavin's back room team works seamlessly and his own reluctance to command the spotlight in any way feeds into the way the others operate.
There are plenty inside and outside of Dublin who state the obvious, that their rate of success can't last forever. Of course, it can't. And as Manchester United have painfully discovered, filling a great management void does not happen easily and has the capacity to create upheaval.
But if Gavin sees out the remainder of this new agreement they'll have given it the best possible chance of continuing well into the next decade too. Who'd bet against at least two of the next three All-Ireland titles remaining in the capital in that scenario?