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Sunday 13 October 2019

'Any player in the panel has a chance of making squad' - Gavin

Dublin manager Jim Gavin studies the action during last Saturday night’s game
Dublin manager Jim Gavin studies the action during last Saturday night’s game

Having slipped Diarmuid Connolly's return into the public discourse so casually it almost went unnoticed six days previously, Jim Gavin avoided any direct mention of Dublin's oldest newest recruit in his post-match press conference on Saturday evening.

Predictably, Dublin's dismantling of Roscommon was a Diarmuid Connolly-free zone.

Connolly wasn't part of the match-day panel which, given he had just completed his first full week of training with Dublin since March of last year, was probably inevitable.

Just as inevitable was the post-match enquiry about the circumstances of Connolly's repatriation with his former team-mates, revealed by Gavin in a casual, blink-and-you'll-miss-it on the Dublin county board's online media channel at midday last Sunday.

As for the blanks - the where? why? how? etc . . . we'll just have to fill them in for ourselves.

"I think we've been consistently saying any player who's playing well with their club and who wants to come into the squad, if they're invited, they'll always be welcome," said Gavin, repeating the stock Connolly answer he has given over the past year, one he was ultimately true to when the St Vincent's man rejoined the Dublin squad last week.

"That goes for any player. We were out again looking at games on Wednesday night.

policy

"Obviously the under-20 game last (Friday) night. Some good performances there too. So it's very much an open door policy."

As for Gavin's policy on how long a player has to be part of his squad before they are live contenders for a spot in his match-day squad, the Dubs boss was unequivocal.

"Any player in the squad has a chance of making the match-day squad and getting on to the field of play," he stressed.

"It's as simple as that."

Given the ease with which Dublin are winning games just now, it's difficult to see quite what scenario they might face that could require Connolly's mix of grace and unpredictability.

There was a time not too long ago when the setting sun on the respective careers of Connolly and Paul Flynn was discussed with much angst, such was the apparent irreplaceability of both.

On Saturday night, Dublin's now-established wing-forwards gave another performance of quiet efficiency.

Brian Howard pirouetted out of trouble and into attacking positions at will, with that dainty and deceiving footwork that you just don't expect of a man of his physique.

Niall Scully meanwhile, continued his record of being the only Dublin player to have started every League and Championship game in 2019 and gave yet another direct assist for yet another palmed Dean Rock goal in the first half of a match that ceased to be a contest once that score went in.

Meanwhile, Cormac Costello - easily Dublin's best player this year up until the Leinster final - played no part.

Nor did Bernard Brogan, part of a match-day 26 for just the second time this year but whose chances of getting on the pitch probably faded in the 61st minute, when Michael Darragh Macauley was black-carded, requiring Gavin to use his sixth and final substitution to indirectly prop up his midfield.

"Yeah, there's great competitive for places in the squad and they all play their part, whatever part we ask them to play," Gavin noted.

Healthy

"Good to see the guys do that as well and finishing strong.

"Other players didn't get game-time today. I know they'll be hungry when we got back training next week."

The evening also featured both starts and impressively involved performances for James McCarthy and Jonny Cooper.

McCarthy's recovery from the knee injury he suffered in the Leinster final has been impressively quick.

Cooper meanwhile, showed no signs of the nuisance foot injury that at one stage, might have threatened his summer.

"We've got a very fit, healthy squad at the moment," Gavin stressed.

"That can obviously change in a moment. But yeah it's great to see for this time of the season"

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