Dublin manager Jim Gavin has urged his young team to savour their moments of success as they zero in on a possible record-equalling fourth successive All-Ireland.
The Dubs face Tyrone at Croke Park on Sunday in the final with the carrot of a place in history. The feat has only been managed three times in the past, twice by Kerry between 1929 and 1932 and again under the great Mick O’Dwyer between 1978 and 1981 – the other was Wexford from 1915 to 1918.
Gavin, who won Sam Maguire once as a player in 1995 – when the Pat O’Neill-managed side beat the Red Hand by a point – says a football career is too short not to fully enjoy the high points.
“One thing we always try to do with the current players is [ensure] that they just enjoy the experience,” Gavin said at Dublin’s pre-final press conference.
“It doesn’t come around often. We’re on a bit of a run at the moment but just to enjoy the experience, the representative part of it, because that is short-lived.
“You are only in the shop window as a player for a very finite time.”
Gavin, at 24, was one of the younger members of the panel alongside one of his current assistants, Jason Sherlock, and could have expected the side to kick on and win more titles in later years.
Yet, while he did win three Leinster championships as a player, the Boys in Blue wouldn’t reach another All-Ireland final before he retired from intercounty football in 2002.
While his glittering career as a manager has seen far more success come to the capital – and players are much better -versed in winning – he feels his players would be well worth heeding the lesson.
“I was only on the squad a couple of seasons,” he says of the 1995 final. “The build up to that game was that team had come so close to getting over the line that there was a big sense of relief when we eventually won a tight game against Tyrone.
“The young members of the group, Jason, Dessie [Farrell] and myself, we wanted a lot more. There’s a great lesson in that.
“We’d won a few Leinsters running into that and I think 2002 was the next. There was a bit of a gap and it gave us a great lesson that you need to live in the moment and focus on the now.
“We had some great teams in 96, 97 and beyond but there were other great counties and that’s just the nature of it.”
While Gavin cautions his players to learn from the county’s history, he’s adamant that they don’t use the past as a marker for where they are now.
There is a rich culture of competitiveness and self-improvement that has propelled to the Dubs to become one of the greatest teams in the history of the sport, and one Gavin sees continuing.
“We’ve never referenced the past. We try to learn from it. There’s a rich learning environment within the group.
“It really is all about the next game and that has probably been their biggest strength to be that focused.
“Speaking of Paul Flynn, Michael Darragh [Macauley], Cian [O’Sullivan] – their attitude is phenomenal and that drives their energy into each game.
“Yes, they celebrate when we get a win, and it’s important too that they socialise together, but it is all about focusing on the representative game and doing your best.