Jim Gavin's departure in Dublin gives chasing pack a chance: Kevin McStay
KEVIN McStay believes Jim Gavin’s surprise departure gives the chasing pack hope of toppling Dublin next season.
McStay, who has just published his memoir entitled ‘The Pressure Game’ that details his three years in Roscommon, also feels Gavin made the right decision to step away after winning five All-Irelands in a row.
“I always wanted to leave when I was on good terms with people,” said McStay, who delivered a Connacht title and a place in the inaugural Super 8s with the Rossies.
“When you’ve won something, my sense is to get out. You can’t always be the author of that exit though. In Jim’s case it was the perfect exit – the historical five-in-a-row.
“What more could he win that was going to further enhance the legacy for Dublin and for himself? I think he made a great call.
“It was also the intersection of his career, his family, everything just reached that nexus. So now he leaves a winner with no questions over his legacy; his team has been fantastic and because they have been so good on his watch – and he is the common denominator – how do they keep it going for longer?”
With Dessie Farrell and Tommy Conroy linked to the vacancy, it is anticipated the Dublin County Board will announce Gavin’s successor this weekend.
“Dublin were so formidable on Gavin’s watch that his leaving the scene has to give others a bit of a lift, to the four or five other teams because when Dublin look to their left they’ll have a rookie manager, whether it’s Dessie Farrell or Tommy Conroy [Farrell was appointed late on Thursday night].
“He’s down at the bottom of the inter-county senior ladder, learning his trade. Okay, they may have had other management jobs but he’s still a rookie manager. They’re not going to pick any other senior team manager. His first match at the end of January is going to be his first-ever senior inter-county match as Dublin manager.
“So there has to be a chink, a gap, a narrowing of the road. And, of course, a lot of their best players are getting older, so there is definitely hope for the others.
“And even if Jim had stayed the other teams had to have more hope. You only had to look at Kerry’s effort - they had them in the drawn match but they couldn’t push it out.
“That gives Donegal, Tyrone and Kerry – I think Mayo have fallen slightly – a good chance next season.
Bernard Brogan and Eoghan O’Gara announced their inter-county retirements soon after Dublin’s five-in-a-row triumph while Philly McMahon, Cian O’Sullivan, Kevin McManamon, Michael Dara McAuley and Stephen Cluxton are all on the wrong side of 30.
In a special interview appearing in Monday’s Irish News, McStay talks about his three years in Roscommon and why he has no plans to step back into the inter-county ring.
“It was a great experience managing Roscommon. When it’s going well, when you’re county is high on the possibilities of summer about Croke Park and Connacht finals that you could win them.
“I’d make this point: Roscommon haven’t got a result in Croke Park since 1980 – their last Championship result (beating Armagh in an All-Ireland semi-final) – until we drew with Mayo two years ago. We were so close. The finer detail of that match is in the book.
“That group that we looked after in 2017/18/19, they got a draw in a Championship match in Croke Park. No Roscommon team has done that in 40 years. And people forget that, and they say: ‘Oh, those years with O’Donnell and McStay were chaotic and handing over to Cunningham...' It’s hard to win anything in Roscommon but we won a Connacht Championship.”