Jim Gavin's demeanour has become something of a hot topic in Gaelic football over the last couple of years. He soared to greater heights of dispassion as the full-time whistle blew in the All-Ireland final in 2017: his face did not register any emotion as his side won an All-Ireland title for the third time in a row.
His attitude in the press conference afterward irritated Sunday Independent journalist Paul Kimmage, who vented his ire on Newstalk. Kimmage criticised Gavin for a "lack of empathy" towards the vanquished:
He's asked quite early on about Mayo's failure to get over the line and the long history and all of that. And he says, 'we know what it's like, we were here a few months ago when we lost the National League final'. So he's comparing a defeat in a National League final to - how many defeats for Mayo since 1951?
So now, I do have a problem. I have a problem with the lack of empathy, I have a problem with the lack of grace. I just thought, 'you must be joking'. 'C'mon Jim, this isn't you, and this isn't real, C'mon, get with it'.
Perhaps Kimmage is correct when he says that "this isn't you". A video then surfaced online of Gavin giving a speech at his own club, Round Towers in Clondalkin, in which the Dublin manager strikes a different chord. He is full of praise for his Dublin players, speaks highly of Mayo (and Lee Keegan's habit of scoring goals in All-Ireland finals), speaking of the influence Clondalkin has had upon him, and is humourous and humble throughout, thanking all around him, particularly his family. Gavin thanked his coaches by name throughout his life at Round Towers, threading Dublin's success right back to what he learned at the club.
Here are a couple of the moments that stand out.
On his Dublin players:
In my humble opinion, we probably had our best performance in an All-Ireland final, under the particular circumstances. We faced a team that was desperate to win, since 1951 they've been trying to win the All-Ireland so you see what it means to them, the support they had there, the run that they had been on - we had five games, they had nine which was big for them. But to open with a brilliant controlled goal - expertly finished by Con, but it was a real team goal if you look back on it. And then to suffer the setback of losing Jack McCaffrey, we had to move a couple of pawns around the chess board. We were on the ropes, but we got into the dressing room, we reset them, and we went out for the second half.
We went two points up, playing really well, [before] an outstanding goal by Lee Keegan, as he always seems to do against us!
But yet again, what really impressed myself, Shane O'Hanlon, Declan Darcy and Jason Sherlock, we got great pride from seeing the players - not only their physical attributes - but the real measure of these characters in the heat of battle. When the pressure is on, that's when your character comes out. And to see how the Dublin players managed themselves in those crucial final moments of the game. They knew exactly what they wanted to do, and for me, that was our best performance for as long as we have been involved.
On the influence of his parents:
Not only were they a big influence upon my life - when we used to travel to West Clare back in the day, when the roads were difficult and the journey took half a day, Jimmy [his father] would sing songs on the way, so I didn't pick up his beautiful singing voice - but what I picked up off my mum and dad were their capacity for hard work. I always remember my Mum, a primary school teacher in Inchicore, way ahead of her time, working for the family.
That was probably a reflection of how hard my mum worked at her career. And for my Dad, I always remember getting up early in the morning to go to work. I'd go to school, do my homework - on time! [laughter as Gavin turns to face his children] - play a bit of football and hurling and then go to bed. Only then would my father get in after a hard day's work, hands covered in oil with sweat running down his brow. That capacity for hard work is something that has stood to me for a long time, so thanks Mum and Dad.
The other trait I picked up from them was the honesty and humility that myself Shane and Jason have tried to create in the Dublin team. That hunger and humility to realise that you are only as good as your last game. Those players can put behind all the success in they have had and be totally present, knowing that whoever they are facing are going to give them a great game, that is one of the players' greatest strength. So to the players in the audience, well done.
Hill 16 Army streamed it live onto their Facebook page, and the video is below.