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Declan Bogue: New boss won't rip up Jim Gavin's blueprint

Pastures new: Jim Gavin celebrates five in a row before his exit as Dublin boss, and now many of his ideas should be left intact
Pastures new: Jim Gavin celebrates five in a row before his exit as Dublin boss, and now many of his ideas should be left intact
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

The lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Boston during the 2014 All-Stars trip played host to a most unusual scene. Jim Gavin sat beside a journalist, chatted intently and swapped ideas.

Alas, there was no dictaphone with a red light on and this was no interview. Instead, the Dublin manager was discussing defensive systems as coached by some clubs in Ulster.

It was a timely chat. That All-Stars trip was notable for the distance certain factions of players kept from one another. Dominated by the reigning champions Kerry, their final opponents Donegal as well as Dublin, there wasn't much evidence of mixing.

Gavin himself was coming to terms with the tactical malfunction that left them reeling after defeat to Donegal in that year's All-Ireland semi-final, his only loss in Championship football in seven seasons. He was on the hunt for ideas.

While on the trip, he took in an American Football game, and watched Boston Celtics play at TD Garden. His forensic nature will have noticed the 'screens' that are routine in basketball, where space is freed up for a player in possession by a team-mate stepping across the path of a potential defender at the optimum moment.

Soon after, Jason Sherlock - his former team-mate and an Ireland basketball international - was added to his backroom.

Such developments weren't lost on those with a keen eye. Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh, a basketball player himself, made mention in the media about how effective they became at the 'basketball screen'.

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The changes he made yielded the five-in-a-row. And now he is gone, with a dignified exit. He won't be sitting on the pews of The Sunday Game, explaining what went into the secret sauce. And for that reason, the likes of Peter Keane, James Horan, Mickey Moran and Declan Bonner will have a spring in their steps this week. No matter what happens between now and the December 12 deadline they have set to appoint a replacement, the Dublin team is in a state of flux.

Far be it for us to argue with another candidate for greatest manager of all time in Kilkenny's Brian Cody, but his comment the other day that, "Whoever comes in next has to come in and be himself and not try to be Jim Gavin, that's the biggest mistake he could make as far as I'm concerned" has room for debate.

Gavin came into a Dublin football culture that had a business-like sense, imposed by previous manager Pat Gilroy. Gavin then added his attention to detail. He didn't have to overhaul an entire culture.

When players were taken off, they had to take Gavin's handshake, an expression that sent out the signal that nobody is above being replaced.

The morning of the drawn All-Ireland final this year, the players outside the match day squad had a training session in case there might be a replay and they could yet force themselves into the reckoning. It was good enough for Bernard Brogan to submit to.

In any event, we see sporting empires crumble when an incoming manager tries to impose themselves.

In Gavin's set-up, ego was the great enemy. I'm not saying the man has no ego whatsoever, but he wasn't attracted to the quick-hit adulation of providing 'good copy' to journalists. He didn't hog the camera. The most animated he got during games was the precise way he would take sips of water.

Compare that to the time Brian Clough took over Leeds United, who were at the time English First Division champions, in the summer of 1974.

"I think they've been champions and they've not been good champions in the sense of wearing the crown remarkably well," was one of the things Clough said on his appointment.

At the first team meeting, he addressed them and said, "All those medals you have won, as far as I am concerned you can throw them in that bin over there" before singling out players for personal abuse.

Way to win over a dressing room. It ended in disaster after 44 days and a £98,000 pay-off.

We live in different times. The successful candidate who gets the job will know they can capture a sixth consecutive All-Ireland nearly off the fumes of the last five.

Already, the chasing pack are eager. Perhaps too eager. In Mayo, a potential county player was made to attend a fitness test for the senior team rather than play for his club Belmullet in an Under-21 final over the weekend.

The push for 2020 has begun.

Few devoted as much to the Monaghan jersey as Mone and Corey

With all the attention given to Jim Gavin's departure from Dublin, it is important to recognise Monaghan's Clontibret duo of Dessie Mone and Vinny Corey slipping out of inter-county football this week.

Other retirements fly under the radar and that's why it is crucial to reflect on the veteran duo's immense contribution to the Oriel County cause.

It is in moments such as these that you recognise your own age. Both men seemed to have been around forever and few put as much into their inter-county careers as they did.

People can be silly when they wonder how a talent such as Dublin's Bernard Brogan can accept sitting on the bench, or out of the team's match day squad altogether. It's as if picking up All-Ireland winners' medals every year has no real attraction.

Neither Mone nor Corey had that. They started their county careers when Monaghan were in the doldrums. Corey made his senior Championship debut in 2003, at a time when they were mid-table fodder in Division Four.

That day, however, they turned over the reigning All-Ireland champions Armagh.

That was the story of that Monaghan side, under the management of Colm Coyle through to Seamus McEnaney when they reached the Ulster finals of 2007 and 2010.

They got lift-off from Malachy O'Rourke's appointment in late 2012. They won the Ulster crown in 2013 by defeating, by way of coincidence, the reigning All-Ireland champions Donegal.

They franked that achievement with another in 2015, again beating Donegal - who had reached the All-Ireland final the previous season - in the decider.

Corey and Mone are examples of GAA stars who played on into their late 30s.

Corey is a father of four, but he spoke about it in an interesting way last summer.

"It's good for them, especially the older children, to see you playing. It's no harm them seeing you go out to training, commit to something," he said.

"But it's not the case that as soon as you have children you have to sit in the house every evening.

"You still have to rear them. I try to be a good example and role model for them. My wife helps out, big time. I never saw it as a reason to stop."



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