IS JIM GAVIN DUBLIN’S GREATEST EVER MANAGER

It’s the question that is sure to start much debate, but who is Dublin’s greatest ever manager? For most Dublin supporters it will come down to two men, legendary manager Kevin Heffernan and current boss Jim Gavin.

Due to the completely contrasting condition Dublin football was in when both managers took over the Sky Blues hot seat, for many Heffo will always be Dublin’s greatest manager.

Kevin took over as Dublin manager with Gaelic Football in the capital in a bad state of health, the number of Dublin supporters attending games was at an all time low and the capital hadn’t tasted victory in either the Leinster or All Ireland Championship since 1963.

Heffernan won Leinster and the All Ireland titles in his first championship season in charge and his team and their style of play are acclaimed for heralding in a new era of Gaelic Football in Dublin, securing its future and setting the template for generations of footballers to come in the capital.

Heffernan in his first stint as manager from 1973 to 76, won 2 All Ireland titles, 3 Leinster titles and a National League Title and when he returned in 1979 he added 1 All Ireland Title and 2 Leinster Titles to his haul. Still today Kevin and his 70’s team who’d reached six All Ireland finals in a row in that era, are still very much revered.

When current boss Jim Gavin took over the reigns in late 2012, Dublin were in a better state to what Heffo had encountered in 73, Dublin had won the All Ireland in 2011 and there was a good nucleus of a squad of the right age to work with, but even so there were a number of retirements to contend with and a number of problem areas that needed to be addressed to get the Dubs back to the top of pile.

But Jim brought in a raft of players and soon stamped his style of play on the squad which resulted in a clean sweep in his first season in charge of All Ireland, Leinster and National League titles.

Dublin supporters have been in seventh heaven since as the Sky Blues under the leadership of Gavin have garnered a further 1 All Ireland, 3 Leinster Titles, 3 National League Titles and an O’Byrne Cup.

That’s an impressive 11 trophies in four seasons and if you add in the 2 All Ireland’s and 3 Leinster titles that Jim Gavin won as the Dublin U21 manager and it’s a really impressive record that not even the great Kevin Heffernan can match.

Now some may point to the fact that Kevin won his championship titles when there was no backdoor and it was pure knockout, but when you look at the fact that all of Dublin’s titles under Gavin have been won without any backdoor help and his team have had to play an extra game in a quarter final stage that wasn’t there in the 70’s, then that above point is mute.

Next Sunday Jim Gavin will send out his reigning champions to battle Mayo for more All Ireland glory, if they succeed, Jim Gavin will equal the All Ireland haul of Heffernan, but he will also do something the great man never managed, back to back titles, (Dublin did win back to back All Ireland titles in 76 and 77 but Heffo was only manager in 1976 and Tony Hanahoe was manager in 1977).

With his trophy haul and if Jim Gavin’s Dublin squad are victorious next Sunday, then surely Gavin will at the very least stand shoulder to shoulder with the late great Kevin Heffernan and for many will surpass him as the greatest of all time.

Kevin Heffernan’s Trophy Haul As Manager:

LEINSTER TITLES:

1974, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1983

ALL IRELAND TITLES:

1974, 1976, 1983

NATIONAL LEAGUE TITLES:

1976

Jim Gavin’s Trophy Haul As Manager:

UNDER 21 LEVEL:

LEINSTER TITLES:

2009, 2010, 2012

ALL IRELAND TITLES:

2010, 2012

SENIOR LEVEL:

LEINSTER TITLES:
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

ALL IRELAND TITLES:
2013, 2015

NATIONAL LEAGUE TITLES:
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

O’BYRNE CUP TITLES:
2015