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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Momentum is all with Mayo insists Dubs boss Gavin ahead of sell-out showdown at Croker

Dubs boss Gavin talks up opposition and man-of-the-moment O'Shea ahead of mouth-watering semi-final next Sunday week

Dublin manager Jim Gavin
Dublin manager Jim Gavin
Dublin GAA senior football manager Jim Gavin and Dublin senior footballer Denis Bastick were in Parnell Park with Adam and Grace Goldrick-McCann to launch AIG Insurance’s new offer of up to 47% off home insurance. Fans can take advantage of this offer by calling 1890 50 27 27 or by logging on to www.aig.ie/dubs

Admission that Dublin haven't, as yet, been forced into the extremities of their abilities by their four championship opponents to date saw Jim Gavin yesterday cede that Mayo are more the in-form team of the two ahead of their All-Ireland SFC semi-final in two Sundays time.

"There's no doubt Mayo do have the momentum," Gavin admitted at Dublin's pre semi-final press call in Parnell Park, an afternoon that began the run-in to what will be an intensely scrutinised and anticipated last four match between the 2013 All-Ireland final protagonists.

"They have played more recently than us against a very good Donegal side and they will carry that into the game and it is up to us to match it early on in the game.

"I think going into the game it was very hard to call," he continued.

"Donegal have a lot of experience in this competition and are very battle-hardened. Maybe the long season took its toll, they're going since May when the rest of us were probably only getting ourselves ready for the championship.

"So it's very demanding and it's a long season for them but Mayo fully deserved their victory and based on the form they showed in the Connacht final and against Donegal in Croke Park, they're very impressive."

Emphatic

Gavin's logic was sound and typically well researched. Where Mayo were emphatic and dominant in their eight-point victory over Donegal last Sunday week, Dublin were visibly less assured and comfortable in their win by the same margin over Fermanagh a week previous.

"A lot of the attention at the moment is on Aidan O'Shea," the Dublin manager understandably acknowledged of the Footballer of the Year favourite.

"And rightly so, I think he's the form player in Ireland at the moment.

"Again, demonstrating the form they have in Connacht, bringing that to Croke Park and he looks very impressive on the square and out the field.

Gavin continued: "But he's surrounded by some fantastic players, Cillian O'Connor and Diarmuid O'Connor, Jason Doherty is having a fine season as well, McLoughlin and Keith Higgins.

"They're still very potent going forward and their structure in midfield now with (Tom) Parsons and Seamie O'Shea and Barry Moran who played a more defensive role - so they look as impressive as ever."

As for Dublin's quarter-final, one of the most bizarre afternoons for this team in their story of late, Gavin suggested that Fermanagh's willingness to continue playing with the same attitude in the final 10 minutes as the first 10 set them apart from his team's opponents in Leinster.

"Fermanagh came out and fronted up an played attacking football and really went at it," he pointed out, by way of explaining a curiously rickety performance against a spirited and emerging team, albeit one not given the faintest hope of surviving in the rarified air of the last eight of the championship.

"There was no diving no cynical play from them and that was a big test for us. And they showed us in the last ten when they kept at it that they punished us for a couple of lapses of concentration."

"Every day they put on the Dublin jersey there is a certain expectation and they are going into a test always.

"Every team we play we give the utmost respect."

On a separate but burningly topical subject, Gavin expressed his view that simulation, as exhibited so infamously by Tyrone's Tiernan McCann, had not yet reached epidemic levels, as intimated by some commentators.

Specifically on McCann, the Dublin boss stated: "The player made a mistake, I'm sure he realises that as well and I'm sure he'll play against Kerry.

"From players and from managers and supporters and people who follow the game, they just want consistency and I think we're getting there.

"Referees are volunteers like the rest of us so they're doing their very best and that's all we ask them to do."

Widening the debate, Gavin gave a tentative approval for the effect of the black card, despite recent instances of blatant cynicism late in matches, the sort of incidents the measure was brought in to eradicate.

"I would have been always in favour of the sin bin but it didn't get there," Gavin explained.

"To have a rule which curbs players ... it was purposely brought in for the body collisions, trips and that part of our game is beginning to be eradicated.

"So I think we're seeing less and less of it and it's going in the right direction."

Naturally

"We saw it in the hurling over the weekend. That's why I think the sin bin is more punitive.

"But I think it was a positive step to bring in the rule which would try and curb that type of play and I think it'll progress naturally over the coming years."

Yet despite the sensationalist response to recent incidents and perceived victimisation of teams and individuals, Gavin reckoned GAA players "don't get enough credit for what they do".

In writing a weekly newspaper column since the start of this summer, Jim Guinness is another to broach the subject, stressing: "People have a right to express their opinion but when their comments cross over into disrespect, it is an issue."

Gavin agreed.

"They are training to professional standards in most of the top teams but they are not living a professional lifestyle," he pointed out.

"They all have to go to work. Any of the players you interview in any of the teams all have to go back to the office and back to the day jobs," added the Dublin manager.

"They do it for the passion of their sport and the grá they have for it.

"Probably enough thought and consideration isn't given to what the players sacrifice for their games and that's the one thing we would always accentuate with them.

"Any employer on the island that has an inter-county player are in a strong position and these men and women are great leaders and employers will only benefit from having them around" concluded the Round Tower, Clondalkin clubman.

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