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Gilroy: I took my eye off the ball for 2012 Mayo defeat

The 2011 All-Ireland winning manager talks about letting the ball drop as Dublin looked to retain Sam Maguire, and describes the hurling team he took over

Pat Gilroy explains why he was to blame for Dublin giving up their All-Ireland title at the semi-final stage against Mayo in 2012.

Former Dublin manager Pat Gilroy admits that he took his eye off the ball in 2012.

The Dubs were looking to retain the Sam Maguire Cup for the first time since 1976-77, and laboured past Laois in an All-Ireland quarter-final.

Mayo lay in wait at the semi-final stage, with Donegal already through to the final after seeing off Conor Counihan’s Cork outfit.

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After leading his county to a first All-Ireland in 16 years a season earlier, Gilroy ended his tenure with a surprising loss to the Connacht side in 2012.

“I didn’t put enough time myself into Mayo,” Gilroy admits. “I took my eye off the ball.

“I felt Donegal were so strong and they were doing so much damage to teams, that I had an eye on them in terms of the way we wanted to play and I didn’t spend enough time on Mayo.

“I would blame myself very strongly for allowing them to get that ten-point lead.”

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Gilroy departed the set-up at the end of that season, clearing the way for Jim Gavin to build on his success and win six more of the next seven All-Irelands.

The St Vincent’s has since achieved the rare distinction of managing his county in both codes, after being installed as hurling boss for the 2018 season.

The Dubs failed to progress from the Leinster championship after winning just one of four games, though the results belied some encouraging performances.

Dublin led late on against Kilkenny at Parnell Park before a late Liam Blanchfield goal sealed the points for the visitors, with the hosts furious at a free not given to one of their defenders.

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The side also forged strong positions against Wexford and Galway — albeit a dead-rubber in the final clash of the season — with the sole win coming against hapless Offaly.

Manager Gilroy, who had minimal experience in the code, took over a side that had been through a number of lean years since Anthony Daly led them to a glorious Leinster title in 2013.

The Clare man’s final year in charge was a disappointing one, while Ger Cunningham had a rocky time at the helm as results were awry and a number of notable player departed the set-up.

“I never went into a group that was as down as that particular group,” says Gilroy. “And it was unnecessary. Their confidence was shot as individuals.”

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“I would’ve played hurling and football up until I was 21 with Vincent’s,” he adds. “Probably as a kid, I would’ve preferred hurling to football.

“When I was asked would I be interested in it (the hurling job), I felt ‘these guys really could just do with a bit of structure and a bit of organisation and they can go a long way’.

“There’s great talent amongst that group. I think they (hurlers) will go on and have success. As a county we should aspire to football and hurling success.”

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