Pat Gilroy has taken over as Dublin hurling boss for a three-year term
“We’ll have to earn that right,” he said, “hopefully they see an opportunity to win an All-Ireland medal with the hurlers, and that at some stage in the future they might consider it.”
Ultimately, he never brought Dublin closer than an All-Ireland quarter-final and several players with potential in both codes who passed through the ranks in Cunningham’s three years were ceded to football.
But even allowing for the magnetic draw of football success, Cunningham failed thoroughly in the baseline task of coaxing the best hurlers in Dublin to play hurling for Dublin.
Some defected, fed up with Cunningham’s management style or in the words of one of the first to go, Michael Carton, unable to stick it in such a “toxic environment”.
Others were dropped, apparently for agitating against Cunningham with others were simply cut just to make room for a new wave of players, many of whom in hindsight were undercooked.
But the unforgivable fact was that by the time Dublin crashed out of this year’s All-Ireland SHC in Thurles, there was as much talent outside the squad as within.
After being handed a three-year term as boss, Pat Gilroy's forces of persuasion will need to be stronger.
The 2011 All-Ireland winning football manager could begin foraging for hurlers in completely different places.
It is likely that he will ask some interesting questions to some of Dublin’s recent All-Ireland winning footballers over the coming weeks.
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The idea of Con O’Callaghan and Ciarán Kilkenny hurling for Dublin would appear to be gone, if not necessarily forever, than certainly for the foreseeable future.
Cormac Costello, mostly because of injury, hasn’t had the sort of sustained impact at senior football level as expected, although he is probably just a less troublesome run of luck away from doing so.
Gilroy and Connolly won an All-Ireland club SFC together with St Vincent’s in 2008 and Dublin in 2011 and they remain close.
More pertinently, Connolly had a turbulent season with Jim Gavin’s squad this year, replete with a 12-week suspension, a central role in the controversy of the summer and a place only on the bench for last month’s All-Ireland final.
Whether winning the final and playing such an important part in that victory, albeit an abridged one, soothed Connolly’s frustrations, only he knows.