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Friday 9 December 2016

Jim Gavin: 'Death of football' talk is wide of the mark

Jim Gavin
Jim Gavin

JIM GAVIN has taken issue with the stark 'Death of Football' metaphor attached to Dublin's low-scoring victory over Derry last weekend.

In recent weeks Dublin have laboured to break down the massed defences of Tyrone and Derry, the latter game spawning a glut of negative commentary about the future direction of Gaelic football. But after yesterday's 11-point mauling of Monaghan, Gavin sought to bring perspective to the debate.

"Conditions in Croke Park last week - with a lot of heavy rain - were very difficult for both sides," he stated.

"Derry and ourselves had to get players to check ever so slightly, receiving the ball, and that probably slowed it down and made it what it was. So I wouldn't buy into some of the comments that were made on the game. The conditions were just very difficult, with a strong wind as well. That was a major contributory factor."

Asked if there had been an over-reaction, Gavin was inclined to agree.

"Teams play within the rules," he reflected, echoing a well-rehearsed theme. "We've always said there is no right or wrong way to play Gaelic football, that's the beauty about it.

"We have no offside rule, so players can play where they want. We have a particular philosophy in Dublin, I have inherited it and that's the way we play our club football. But it's not the right or wrong way, that's just how we play. We try to play an expansive game."

What Gavin found most pleasing about yesterday was Dublin's ability to bypass a defensive blanket - albeit Monaghan's was more of a light duvet compared to Derry's suffocating eiderdown.

"It's something we've worked on - long-range scorers is one of our assets," he pointed out. "In our games last year we had some success with it and some not, but we're fortunate enough to have technically skilful guys and that's one of the areas we've looked at in the last few weeks."

His Monaghan counterpart, Malachy O'Rourke, conceded that losing at home by 11 points was demoralising.

"You have to make sure that you handle it in the right way, but I suppose throughout sport it's littered with teams who lost games heavily and you just have to keep going," O'Rourke remarked.

"You just have to show that resilience and keep improving step by step. Definitely there's a gap there. I think on another day we could close that gap."

However, Monaghan have just a week to close it, now that they face Dublin in a league semi-final rematch.

"When you get to the semi-finals, you are always going to be playing a tough team," O'Rourke mused. "If we had our choice, maybe after playing Dublin today we would have preferred somebody else. But we can't do anything about that now. We have been on an upward curve over the last two or three years. Making the next step is the toughest step of all."

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