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Jim Gavin: Every title triumph on Dublin's road to history has been so special

 

Family celebration: Dublin boss Jim Gavin celebrates with Bernard Brogan and his sons Keadan and Donagh at Croke Park
Family celebration: Dublin boss Jim Gavin celebrates with Bernard Brogan and his sons Keadan and Donagh at Croke Park
Jason Sherlock
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

At the final peep of Paddy Russell's whistle in the 1995 All-Ireland final, the beaten Tyrone players collapsed to the turf and wished it would swallow them up.

Dublin's industrious wing-forward Jim Gavin, however, lowered himself onto his knees, leaned back and mimicked the famous pose from the film 'Platoon', thanking the gods that he had reached the promised land of an All-Ireland title as a player.

That man was taken away from public view for years. In all of his previous All-Ireland triumphs as manager, Gavin kept his composure on the line at the final whistle. Maybe a handshake here and there for members of the backroom staff and the odd grin towards players.

Here, it felt different. He and Jason Sherlock, a comrade from 1995, embraced. He had achieved a five in a row, the first ever manager to do so. A deep satisfaction was still beaming from him when he entered the press conference room, his father following closely behind and sitting down to watch his son.

He graciously acknowledged the work that goes into Dublin GAA at all levels, and that history had been made.

"I'm not trying to dismiss it in any shape or form, it is phenomenal for Dublin GAA for this to happen, but when you are going into a game like this you have to focus on trying to get your game plan, game and process right. That is what delivers a performance like you saw today," said Gavin.

"The result is the outcome of that. Obviously it is a fantastic honour for Dublin, absolutely."

He wouldn't be drawn into how many players would be happy to retire now, but you'd expect there will be a managed phasing out.

It's difficult to see the likes of Bernard Brogan, Eoghan O'Gara and Rory O'Carroll staying on now, but those decorated soldiers are on the fringes of the match-day panel these days anyway.

As for Gavin, he doesn't appear to be finished either.

"You're just in a privileged position to work with players that are so dedicated to their sport. I have it easy," he explained.

"Club managers have it difficult, sending texts around for training. Inter-county managers don't do that, people turn up and you have a full complement for every training session.

"You're excited today and excited to look on the horizon but that's probably for another day, I'm not going to get into it now. I'll sit down with the county board and obviously review it.

"I've a profession outside of this role that I've been asked to do for Dublin GAA and then obviously I've family commitments as well and it all goes into the mix, but now isn't the time. I have committed to next year so we'll reflect on it in a couple of weeks' time."

For now, he was all set to soak in the good vibes flowing around the city, emanating from the dressing room.

"They are the moments that you really treasure, you won't be back together in that environment. Yeah you go back to the hotel tonight, obviously their mums and dads are there and you can't blame them because they nurtured and influenced these men to be who they are.

"There's a lot of distractions.... The medal presentation, there are always players at work or abroad with work, so yeah, it's the last time we'll be together, being able to reach out and connect with each other, just us and the management team and backroom together.

"So they are special and I can without hesitation remember each and every one of the probably six times we've been with them after an All-Ireland final. They are special moments."

And on the return of Diarmuid Connolly? Disappointing here, mixing some sublime with some greedy, and other times downright careless. But still, he got the biggest cheer of appreciation from the crowd when it was his turn to hoist Sam Maguire skywards, showing the regard he is held in.

"It's been great to have him back, he loves Dublin, he loves Dublin GAA, he loves playing for the county," said Gavin.

"He loves the guys, the guys love him, it was always going to be a win-win. Life is not a straight line, there are twists and turns and cul-de-sacs. The way it happened was the way it happened. He was always welcomed and I think I was consistent on that."

His opposite number Peter Keane was in typical form, keeping his counsel on pretty much all. One Kerry journalist enquired as to the mood in the dressing room. "My God, what do you think?" replied Keane. Safer ground; what are his views on this Dublin team?

"What can you say? They're after winning five All-Irelands in a row. It's an historic day, no matter what was going to happen today. You'd have to compliment them and congratulate them on their achievement."

On Kerry being well-placed now to challenge in the coming years, he added: "If you want to put a positive spin on it, you're thinking that. But at the end of the day you've lost an All-Ireland final. You're disappointed. You go away and lick your wounds, gather yourself and come at it again next year."

And then Keane, eager to get away from Croke Park, asked: "Are we done?".

Yes, Peter. We're done.

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