Ex-Dublin star says Stephen Cluxton and Jim Gavin could step away after this year
There could be some high-profile departures this winter - including Stephen Cluxton and Jim Gavin - should Dublin achieve an historic All-Ireland SFC five-in-a-row this Sunday, warns former Dub Barry Cahill.
Cluxton has been an ever-present for nearly 20 years and stands on the brink of captaining Dublin to Sam Maguire for a record sixth time, but former team-mate Cahill has doubts over his future in sky blue.
The evergreen goalkeeper turns 38 two weeks after this year's decider and Cahill feels "it's going to take its toll" at some stage in the near future. The 2011 All-Ireland winner believes it's also "50:50" that Gavin could walk away should they reign supreme again this weekend.
"You'd probably expect four to five guys that could retire. The big one for me would be Stephen Cluxton. When will he retire? How does his body feel? How motivated is he in terms of continuing after potentially getting that five-in-a-row milestone?" Cahill said at the launch of AIB's new short film, 'The Toughest Temptation'.
"So if Stephen does decide to call it a day over the winter, that could be a massive shift in terms of the whole dynamic around Dublin being All-Ireland contenders.
"Also, the Jim Gavin factor. I know Jim extended his agreement with the county board in the early part of the year but that's not anything contractual or solid really in terms of going forward. Himself and Declan Darcy have been there involved with teams going all the way back to 2003.
"At some point it's going to take its toll on you. A possible exit after a five-in-a-row achievement would be a natural time to do it. So that's a possibility, that could take place over the course of the winter.
"I've been saying it the last couple of years that the gap will only start to close when one, if not both of them, leaves."
“A Stephen Cluxton retirement or a Jim Gavin exit would actually give a lot of other counties a little bit of a boost.
“They might feel there’s a little window of opportunity there where they might close the gap, so it will be interesting to see whether those thoughts enter their heads in October, November and December.”
Cahill couldn’t fathom the prospect of Gavin managing any other county whenever he does call time on his remarkably successful term with the Dubs, while he also expects 2011 All-Ireland-winning manager Pat Gilroy to return to the post in the next decade.
Should the job become vacant in the coming years, as he expects, the St Brigid’s clubman views Dessie Farrell as the outstanding candidate – with Jason Sherlock also in the mix.
“If you were to make a call on it today I think Dessie Farrell would be the favourite. Dessie is obviously trying to keep his hand in managing Na Fianna,” Cahill said.
Bernard Brogan is another who Cahill expects to exit stage left after this weekend but he believes his inter-county career will finish with a whimper and he doesn’t envisage the 2010 Footballer of the YearO’Sullivanmaking the match-day 26.
“I don’t think Bernard will make the 26. Maybe the writing was on the wall a small bit when he made the championship squad for the Roscommon ‘Super 8s’, and he didn’t get any game-time,” Cahill said.
“That would have been a very tough pill for Bernard to swallow. It is quite cut-throat and quite ruthless and that’s how Jim manages the ship.
“You can’t write your swansong and it’s so competitive up front, it would have taken a couple of injuries or suspensions to try and get him back in and that hasn’t transpired for him.”