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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019

'GAA man' Gilroy aiming to lead Dublin hurlers to All-Ireland semi-finals and finals

The county’s new manager has been speaking about his ambitions.

Gilroy at Croke Park yesterday.
Gilroy at Croke Park yesterday.
Image: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

NEW DUBLIN HURLING manager Pat Gilroy has admitted that regularly reaching All-Ireland semi-finals and finals is a realistic target for his team.

The man who guided Dublin to a breakthrough All-Ireland football title in 2011, their first in 16 years, spoke publicly for the first time yesterday about his surprise appointment as hurling manager.

He refused to outline exactly what his targets for 2018 will be, insisting that he still has to nail those down with his yet to be formalised playing panel and management team.

But he said the one aim he always has when managing teams is that they finish each season with their best performance.

That clearly wasn’t the case for Dublin this year under Ger Cunningham, who won just two of their nine competitive games and bowed out of the championship with a 6-26 to 1-19 spanking from Tipperary.

“I have a simple plan when I’m doing something like this, when I’m involved with teams — if, each year, you can get your best performance to be your last, then that is something to aim for,” said Gilroy.

“If that means you get knocked out or if that means you’re winning, then you’re happy. If you get the best out of them that’s all you can ask for.

I think if Dublin were getting the best out of themselves in the last performance of the year then we’d be in semi-finals and finals more regularly than we have been.

“That’s my simple philosophy on it. If you look at it, you’d say we should be in a top-four position on a more consistent basis.

“We’ve flittered in and out of there. Dublin has done well too because we don’t have the tradition — 1938 (last All-Ireland win) is a long time ago — but the progress has been steady.

“It’ll always have these little bumps. When you’re trying to break through with something, you’ll be nearly there and then you’ll fall back down and get back up again but I think people who are playing hurling in Dublin are a resilient bunch. They will get back up again.”

Gilroy has managed underage hurling teams at St Vincent’s though last played the game himself as a 19-year-old (26 years ago), before focusing exclusively on football.

He eventually won All-Irelands at club and county level, in 1995 and 2008, before managing Dublin to that 2011 triumph.

He rejected the suggestion that it is a brave decision now to put his reputation on the line and take on the hurling job, particularly with such limited experience in the game.

“I wouldn’t think it’s a brave move,” said Gilroy. “It’s always a great honour to be asked to do anything — either in your own club or your own county. I’ve got so much from both that giving back is nice, it’s very hard to say ‘no’ to things when you’re asked.

“I would consider myself to be a GAA man, so whether it’s football, hurling, camogie, ladies football, I’m interested in them all.

“I’ve a personal interest in them all because I’ve kids playing all codes. For me, it’s a great challenge. The thing for Dublin is to try to become a top-four team consistently. We’ve been in and out of that over the last 10 years.

“There is so much hurling happening in the city that we really should be pushing to be up there on a more consistent basis.”

Gilroy said that he expects to confirm the identity of his entire management team to the county board this weekend. Anthony Cunningham, who managed Galway to All-Ireland finals in 2012 and 2015, has been strongly linked with the number two position.

“Very close, I have to meet a couple of people this evening to finalise things,” he said. “I’m going to present a plan to the county board by the weekend. It’s been very quick to try to get everything in place but I think I’m there.

“By the weekend then I think we should be able to tell people who we have. If they’re not happy with things then we’ll have to change it. But it’s only a week now since getting the job. It’s been busy to put that whole structure in place. But we’re nearly there.”

Pat Gilroy’s Dublin will compete in the AIG Fenway Hurling Classic, which takes place in Boston on 19 November. Dublin will play Galway in one semi-final with Clare and Tipperary meeting in the other. The overall winners will take home the inaugural Players Champions Cup

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Paul Keane

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