Sky Sports pundit Kieran Donaghy reacts to Jim Gavin stepping aside, suggesting that Dublin will retain their aura despite his departure.

The news on Saturday afternoon came as a surprise, given that all other counties have their management teams confirmed for 2020.

“It was a bit of a shock when it came around,” said the former Kerry star. “When it came this late in the year, I presumed he was staying on.

“After the All-Ireland final replay win over Kerry, it looked like it could be it, just the way he celebrated. But there was also talks that he was celebrating a five in a row, so that was allowable to let your hair down!

“But maybe looking at it in hindsight, maybe he knew deep down that it was it. Maybe the last few months he has been mulling over will he actually go again, when he had it in his mind to step down.

“But he’s probably right to go with his gut on this one, if his mind was made up.

“It’s a huge job – managing an intercounty team. The time that goes into it is unbelievable. So to do it on a voluntary basis, and to do what he did was amazing.”

5 in a row, what a way to bow out. He finished what Gilroy started in some style. Attention to detail was unreal I鈥檇 say, summed up this year. Down a point in added time this year, down a man= keeper to full back full back pushes out to pick up spare man = turnovers. 馃憦馃徎 Jim Gavin

— Kieran Donaghy (@starryboy14) November 30, 2019

Gavin consoles Donaghy after the 2015 All-Ireland final Gavin consoles Donaghy after the 2015 All-Ireland final Gavin consoles Donaghy after the 2015 All-Ireland final

Gavin steps down as Dublin bossContenders to take the Dublin reins

Gavin’s departure may come as a boost to the Dubs’ rivals, but Donaghy feels a huge challenge remains for the likes of Kerry, Mayo and the rest of the chasing pack.

“I think Dublin will have the same aura as champions of the five-in-a-row,” he said.

“It’s the players you have to try and beat. The management of course help and put all the ideas and tactics in place, but these players are a serious bunch of players. I don’t think the other counties will be licking their lips and rubbing their hands, thinking that all of a sudden it will be easier. The task is still monumental to take down this current bunch of Dublin players, no matter who they have in charge.

“I’m sure the guy coming in will want to set his own standards, but the legacy that Jim has left, the culture that they have in Dublin at the moment will be in place.

“So I wouldn’t necessarily be jumping around thinking it’s going to be a piece of cake all of a sudden.”