Gilroy crosses codes

by Dave Donnelly

“A LOT of people would argue I didn’t play football at the top level either,” Pat Gilroy joked as he met the press this week at the launch of the AIG Fenway Series in Boston next month, at which Dublin will take on Galway.
The All-Ireland-winning former Dublin football coach Pat Gilroy was this month unveiled as the new boss of the county’s hurlers.
With relatively little experience at elite level in the stick-and-ball game, the 45-year-old brushed off concerns that he might struggle to add value in his latest code and said he is looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s always great to be asked to do something, whether in your home club or your home county. I’ve got so much from both that, giving back, it’s always very hard to say no to.
“I would consider myself to be a GAA man, whether it’s football, hurling, camogie, ladies football – I’m interested in them all.
“I have personal interest in them all, having kids playing all codes, so for me it’s a great challenge. And the thing for Dublin is to try become a team that’s a top four team consistently.”
While it might raise eyebrows for a man so steeped in football to take up the top job in Dublin hurling, Gilroy has a strong background in hurling.
The St Vincent’s man played senior as a teenager and only began to focus on football when elevated to the county Under-21 football panel as a 19-year-old.
“I played hurling and football all the way up to minor. I went straight to senior with hurling first and I was junior league with football.
“I played two games with the senior hurling team and got onto the Dublin under-21 football panel and then I never played hurling again.”
Nevertheless, his relative lack of expertise in the intricacies of hurling means his technical input will be minimal.
It’s not something that concerns Gilroy who feels his experience in management across codes means he can bring value where needed.
“There’s not an awful lot technical-wise we’d be adding to these guys.
“ There are 50 hurlers in Dublin, when you are watching the championship, who are technically very competent.
“A lot of it is their mindset, their physical condition, their diet – it’s all the package.”
Gilroy poured cold water on suggestions he’d look to attract dual-code stars like Con O’Callaghan into the hurling set-up.
Diarmuid Connolly and Ciaran Kilkenny, who were talented hurlers in their youth and continue to play at club level, will also be surplus to requirements.
“They are – well they were [brilliant hurlers]. If you watch the club championships, guys like that are struggling playing hurling. They don’t stand out, necessarily.
“I don’t intend to mess up football by negotiating guys into doing something they might not even want to do.”

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