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All-Ireland SFC Final: Delighted Dublin boss Jim Gavin salutes collective effort

By Declan Bogue

Dublin boss Jim Gavin is often characterised as dour, mechanical, process-driven and devoid of colour.

But get this. Since the dawn of the 'manager' in Gaelic games, Dublin had never retained Sam Maguire under the same leadership until Saturday. In 1976, then boss Kevin Heffernan walked away. Tony Hanahoe took over as player-manager, and they only went and won the thing in 1977.

You have to go back to 1921, '22 and '23 for retaining the canister before that, when selections were made by committee.

So here he is, the first Dublin manager to retain Sam, smiling but not quite joshing with the press, telling us about singing songs and a party atmosphere in the dressing room.

"It's October 1, 2016, that's what's unique about it," he said after lifting his third All-Ireland with the Dubs, insisting each one was special. The weather on the night made it feel more like a rugby Autumn international.

"In the previous year we played a fantastic Kerry side. This year, we have played another fantastic Mayo side. There was a unique atmosphere out there, I thought our supporters were fantastic.

"I thought when the game was in the balance, the supporters were encouraging the guys to go at it, and you could hear that."

He is much happier to turn the attention away from himself and onto the backroom team. He stated: "It takes a lot of hard effort for the staff to take time away from their families, on behalf of the players.

"It's great to see that level of dedication. And I also say that for the Mayo side, when you see Keith Higgins out there at the end you couldn't have anything but respect and admiration for that man and his players. It has to be hurting them."

Other managers can have a tendency to put themselves at the centre of the narrative immediately after winning an All-Ireland. That's not the way it is with Gavin, who could be seen bringing children onto the pitch to celebrate with their heroes.

"The way we look at it, we ask that group to be the very best. That's all we ever strive for. If we get bits of tin along the way, that's been a good day's work," he added. "It makes you proud of their families who rear them and of their clubs who coach them. We put a bit of polish on them.

"It's not a straight line, there's been lots of dips and close games along the way, but it's a reflection of their application and determination and the sacrifice that they have given to their sport.

"They can all go back to work on Monday and be proud to say they are All-Ireland champions."

All-Ireland champions. And possibly the greatest we have ever seen.

Belfast Telegraph


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