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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Hacks must activate protocols to decipher Gavin's continuum of Dub-speak

Dublin manager Jim Gavin. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Dublin manager Jim Gavin. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

GAA hacks of a certain wizened vintage recall when an immutable September rule applied with surprising frequency: "Whoever hosts the best All-Ireland press night will lift the cup."

Then along came Brian Cody. Well, there's always the football All-Ireland ... then along came Jim Gavin.

Please don't misinterpret this as a slight on the two currently most successful managers in Gaelic games. They are masters of what matters. And they don't shun the press, far from it. They talk after every win (or rare defeat). Gavin hosts a press briefing before almost every Dublin SFC outing.

And Cody always fronts up at the annual culinary treat that is the Kilkenny All-Ireland press night ... it's just that you're far more likely to find actual oysters than pearls of wisdom on the Langton's menu.

The thing is, though, that you know (by the substance and tone of his replies) that Cody is really saying: "I'm here for whatever sound bites you can muster ... but as for revealing the distant cousin of a secret from the Nowlan Park inner sanctum, try some other mug!"

When Cody has something serious or even incendiary to say, he will choose the moment of its utterance (think back to the Monday after the 2014 All-Ireland final replay). He will probably answer a question that hasn't even been asked.

Gavin has a different style. He will happily ramble on about all manner of topics at his 8am Gibson Hotel briefings; but the only headline-grabbing stuff is invariably non-Dub specific - championship structures, the GAA calendar, black cards, sin bins and the like.

In fairness, we can hardly expect Jim to declare: "The Leinster championship is a joke. It's not our fault if everyone else is crap!"

So, perhaps with a nod to his military background, he bamboozles us arcane terminology that, you suspect, is never uttered in the Dublin dressing-room.

If an unfortunate player tears his cruciate, "injury protocols are activated". His Leinster destroyers remain ever "intentful" about their next victim. Last week, he even stressed the need for a "continuum" - we presume he meant Dublin's talent conveyor, not Minkowski's space-time continuum.

Dublin and Westmeath held their Leinster final media events on the same day. The overwhelming consensus was that Westmeath won the press battle - and will be routed in the war.

Still, even the underdogs have learned how to play the media. A year ago, Ger Egan suggested that Westmeath were "definitely" going to attack Dublin "because that's the best style we're capable of playing" ... as a prologue to one of the most extreme blanket defence versions yet seen.

So, this year, when Tom Cribbin says his players are "willing to throw caution to the wind", does he mean it?

Maybe he should adopt the mantra of his talisman ... we eavesdropped on the following gem from John Heslin's interview with Newstalk: "The main thing we learned (from last year) is that if you don't score more than the opposition, you won't win ... that's the plan against the Dubs, to kick the ball over or under the bar more times than they can."

Tell 'em nothing, John!

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