Today, AIG Ireland launched this year’s Fenway Classic which will take place in Boston’s Fenway Park on November 19th.
The competition will see Dublin, Clare, Galway and Tipperary compete in an 11-a-side version of the game of hurling.
And for the privileged few today it was the first time newly appointed Dublin Hurling Manager Pat Gilroy addressed the media.
The former All Ireland Football Champion, both as a player and a manger, outlined some of his plans for the coming years in his new role.
Pat, who played hurling at club level for St. Vincent’s at the age of 19, was called up to play U21 football for Dublin’s Inter County set up and the rest is history. But openly admits to always being a student of the game.
“I would have managed a lot of hurling teams but all juvenile hurling teams,” he told RTÉ Sport.
“The kids don’t answer you back as much as the inter-county fellas.”
“I study hurling a lot and I suppose maybe if you weren’t that good at something, you try to figure out what people are doing.”
Pat is labelled as one of the best man managers in the game, and proved this taking the Dublin Senior footballers out of their rut in 2009 to All Ireland winners in 2011, their first senior championship win since he won in 1995 as a player.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a hurling man or a football man, I’m a GAA man. Camogie means a lot to me because I’ve a daughter who plays that too.”
“It means a lot to me. Hurling means a lot to me, my county means a lot to me.”
“Being involved with a group of lads who are all going for common purposes is very rewarding and it’s great to do it for your own county.”
No one is under any illusion that the task faced by Gilroy, and his yet to be named backroom team, is a huge one, but it’s certainly a task that Pat will be no stranger to having turned a football team of similar fortunes around at the beginning of this decade. And it will be a combination of his staff and his players that will ultimately make or break the Vincent’s man.
“You, obviously, have a hell of a lot more help when you’re doing an inter-county team.” he admitted.
“You have to have experts there as well who you rely on, but you also have to tell them what you want and what you’re looking.”
“I suppose a manager’s job is to make sure there’s a certain direction that you’re trying to achieve and then everybody knows then with their own particular job how they can get you towards that direction.”
And players? In the wake of former manager Ger Cunningham ending his stint in charge, the Dublin hurling panel was a shadow of its former self under Anthony Daly, and there were many mixed feelings within the camp. It will be interesting to see if any of the players that walked away or were relieved from their posts return to Gilroys regime.
Dublin fans will all agree that would like to see some familiar faces back, like Mark and Paul Schutte, Peter Kelly, and many other names, including Danny Suttcliffe, but has Pat reached out to any former players to enquire on their availablilty?
Well the new boss claims he has not made contact with any players, in respect of the current county championship, which are only at the semi final stage, but has emphasised that he would only be considering candidates who weren’t fully committed to the cause.
There’s a lot of good hurlers out there. Some of them for whatever reason haven’t been playing over the last few years. If they want to play and they’re good enough, everyone will have a chance.”
“It has to be fellas who want to play and that are keen to play. You want to have the best ones available who really want to be there. That’s the bottom line.”
In terms of measuring success, Gilroy not looking for an immediate impact, a quick fix. After their 2013 Leinster success, Dublin have struggled to even maintain that level so there are a lot of boxes to be ticked to get back to their and beyond.
“Dublin have been competitive over the last 10 years in hurling. It’s not like we’re at the very bottom. When a team transitions though, it can be difficult.”
“If we perform to our absolute best, then you can’t do anything more than that. I had great years as a player with my club where we really gave everything and lost a final by a point, but it was nearly as good as success because we couldn’t have done anymore. We left everything on the field.”
“If we got that, then I think that would help Dublin hurling in terms of getting more long-term success and becoming a more traditional top-four team. To get consistency and be up at that level getting into semi-finals regularly should be the ambition.”