It was a room full of legends and magicians in the game of sports management but the announcement of Jim Gavin as this year’s Signify Sports Manager of the Year was hardly a surprise to anyone of the 250 guests at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin.
It was fully deserved and a second gong at this ceremony for the retired Dublin Manager. It is often the case that your legacy begins to be chipped away as soon as you walk out the door. With Gavin, the tributes keep coming and the admiration as much for the how as the what of his achievement is growing.
Des Cahill was the man on the microphone yesterday and Gavin was typically humble in paying tribute to the Dublin group on whose ‘behalf’ he was accepting the accolade.
It was notable that he listed his family, his work and the group involved in Dublin in that order as the three points on the scale that he had considered before coming to his decision.
Signify is the new name for Phillips Lighting Division who have backed this annual award since 1982. The winner in that first year was Pat Henderson of Kilkenny hurling.
Jack Charlton picked it up four times. Declan Kidney three and Gavin joins Brian Kerr, Brian Cody and Joe Schmidt as a two-time winner.
A good number of the monthly award winners were there as well with Willie Mullins and Mikey Graham reflecting on their own journeys through management.
The Awards were handed over by Minister of State for Sport Brendan Griffin who was heading for home in Kerry last night where he will watch from afar as today’s FAI Accounts announcement brings sport down to earth with a hard bump.
He is a great speaker at these events and while handing tributes to Dublin as a Kerryman does not come easily he did so with grace and no little affection. He was born in the first year of these awards in 1982, “The year that Kerry didn’t win the five-in-a-row he quipped in his opening.
There was good news for yesterday’s sponsors, and Tom McCabe who heads up the sports lighting division when Griffin confirmed that there would be another full round of club and regional Sports Capital Grants opening up early in 2020 and that the work had been completed ready for final sign off on the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Funding. This is likely to be one of the first keynote announcements of a special year in sport next year.
For yesterday though it was about looking back and celebrating perhaps the greatest manager we have seen in Irish sport, a man who created history with his team and who did so with grace, humility and an attention to detail that was evident yesterday as he arrived to the split second to step up to collect his monthly award. For a man in charge of the nation’s airways and air traffic control as his day job that is just another of his skills that we can all be grateful for.

Image credit: Oisin Kenniry,