GAA Football

Jim Gavin departure will make Dublin stronger fears Tyrone boss Mickey Harte

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte doesn't believe Jim Gavin's departure will weaken dominant Dublin in the long run. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Neil Loughran

THE shockwaves from Jim Gavin’s sudden departure may still be reverberating around the capital, but Tyrone boss Mickey Harte believes his exit will ultimately make the all-conquering Dubs even stronger.

Gavin’s decision to step down was confirmed on Saturday, coming three months after Dublin completed an unprecedented five in-a-row and bringing to an end a glorious reign that garnered six All-Ireland titles.

The search for his successor has already begun, with Dessie Farrell and Gavin’s predecessor, Pat Gilroy, among the names in the frame.

Yet while many have wondered whether his departure will help close the gap for the chasing pack, Harte feels the introduction of a new voice “could make life harder for the rest of us, not easier”.

“New managers and new set-ups always bring an injection of something to every team, and so imagine bringing an injection to Dublin, what they’d be like,” said the Red Hand boss.

“There was a real drive to create this record, and he might have felt what else have you to drive for? We’ve created a new record, what’s another one going to mean? It wouldn’t mean an awful lot to him.

“He’s got his six All-Irelands, five in-a-row, the players are there… maybe it could be a move where he would say this could give Dublin a chance for continuity in terms of new energy, new fight to go and continue to make records, where probably he doesn’t feel like he needs to do that any more.

“His record in the Championship is unrivalled and will be forever I would imagine.

It could be quite opposite - it could make life harder for the rest of us, not easier.”

With such solid systems in place, and a team that has proved unparalleled in the modern era, Harte doesn’t expect Gavin’s replacement to make drastic changes to a winning formula.

He said: “I don’t think that will happen in Dublin because there’s so many people connected with the set-up. Yes, Jim Gavin was the spearhead of it, the architect, whatever you want to call it, but that won’t all go.

“That backroom team will still remain. It would be foolish for somebody to come in and say ‘I’m going to wipe the slate clean’ and red out everything, get new people in. That won’t happen, not with the size of community - as it nearly is - that backs up the Dublin team.

“A lot of those people will still be in place, I’d imagine some of the people who take over the management will have been around the set-up as well, whether it be Pat Gilroy, Dessie Farrell, or Dessie Farrell in connection with Jayo [Jason Sherlock].

“A lot of the people who are there will still be there, the same systems will apply. Somebody will bring their own bit of talent and unique vision to it, but they won’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

“So much of the good is there, they’ll want to see how they can add a bit of value to that. They’ll be smart enough and clever enough to do the things that are right for Dublin.”

The inter-county future of some of Dublin’s senior players has also been cast into further doubt following Gavin’s decision, and Harte believes it could signal the end for some of their more seasoned campaigners.

“That may be the case, and it may be the case that he wanted somebody else to be the one to deal with a number of them who are at the latter end of it.

“If the new people come in and do it, that’s their business, or else the ones who stay on will know they have to maybe accept there’ll be a new role for them in it.

“It might encourage some of the old brigade to move on.”

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