herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Gavin has case
 for defence

LAST Thursday, at his pre-Leinster final press conference in the Gibson Hotel, Jim Gavin referenced Meath's propensity to get "numbers behind the ball," on three occasions.

Which in itself might seem unremarkable had any observers of Meath's two Championship games this year thought it pertinent to mention that particular facet of their game.

Plus the fact that the Dublin manager wasn't actually asked about the Royals' defensive inclinations.

"They play a very robust brand of football," he said, not unlike Jason Ryan's observations of a couple of weeks previous.

"They are tight in defence. They get lots of bodies back. They make it difficult. And Kildare maybe got one shot on goal in 70 minutes of football. That's a demonstration of how tight the Meath defence is."

sirens

For the sake of context, Gavin spoke for 17 minutes. Mostly about Meath.

So the frequency with which he mentioned their ability to quickly compress bodies into the space in front of the opposition's ball carrier didn't exactly set off any sirens amongst those who had gathered to collate this musings.

But it was perhaps Gavin's most interesting thought of the morning all the same.

Typically for the Dublin boss, his every utterance on Meath was complimentary to the point of being almost stately in tone.

"We would always see Meath as playing traditional football, like ourselves," he said. "They would have strong values of the GAA, as would Dublin. And that is manifest in the way they play now. We would always see Meath as playing traditional football, like ourselves. They would have strong values of the GAA, as would Dublin. And that is manifest in the way they play now."

Not that Meath's attacking charms have gone unnoticed to Gavin.

He knew, off the top of his head, that the Royals had pilfered 9-29 in just two games and have recent history in hitting the net against Dublin.

"Yeah, they're obviously able to get goals," he offered. "They hurt Dublin back in 2010. They demonstrated that against Carlow, that ability to get goals, and they demonstrated it again…they had multiple goal opportunities against Kildare.

"I thought they finished the game quite strong. Kildare were always going to come back at them but they looked quite comfortable in the closing minutes and they closed out the game in a professional manner.

"Obviously, it's an area they saw themselves to go after and they have improved in that area."

guarantees

Of his own team, Gavin was customarily vague. If he's tired of warning people that their status as Champions and favourites doesn't count for anything, it doesn't show.

And practice makes perfect.

"There are no guarantees in sport," he said, repeating a well-worn theme. "We've seen the best teams in the world in a different sport not having success. It's on a given day and any time Dublin play Meath, they can go either way.

"Off match day and behind the scenes, they (his players) do an awful lot of work on their game. So they prepare very well and sometimes that manifests itself in good performances.

"But we've been a bit inconsistent in our games so far," Gavin added in reference to Dublin's two championship wins so far.

"It's about trying to get that blend right and getting that 70-minute performance."

mckeon@herald.ie

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