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Sunday 22 July 2018

Dublin's 'Super Eights' picture emerges after victory

Dynamo: Dublin's Niall Scully gets his pass in as Laois' Colm Begley closes in during yesterday's Leinster decider
Dynamo: Dublin's Niall Scully gets his pass in as Laois' Colm Begley closes in during yesterday's Leinster decider

Until yesterday, Jim Gavin had blankly refused to speak of the 'Super Eights' or Dublin's part therein.

It chimes with his due diligence policy with regard to the Leinster SFC and Gavin isn't the sort to peer too deeply into the future when his thoughts are being publicly consumed.

Yesterday, the picture of what will become in three weeks' time began to become clearer.

On the weekend of July 14/15, Dublin take on newly-crowned Ulster champions, Donegal, in Croke Park.

They will play further games against either Roscommon and Cork or whichever teams beat those two (in round four of the qualifiers) in two weeks' time, one of which will be played away from home.

The venue for the other, a designated home game, is already provoking debate, given Dublin will have already played a match in Croke Park.

What seemed to consume Gavin more than Dublin's prospective opponents, however, was the frequency of matches.

Each of the eight counties will play three games in four weeks, a succession of games Dublin won't have experienced since their 2010 run in the qualifiers.

Ethic

"I think every two weeks is manageable for amateur players," Gavin noted.

"I think the hurling guys found it difficult to play games back-to-back and I can understand why."

Naturally, the programme will ask different questions of Dublin's squad but just now, that particular group seems to be in rude health.

"Thankfully there is a great team ethic there and this team has demonstrated that whatever a player is asked to do on behalf of his county he is willing to do that," Gavin outlined.

"Whether that means play the full 70 minutes or seven minutes they will do that. I know they will all do their very best."

As it stands, John Small will not be available for that Donegal match.

Carless

Having come on as a substitute in the 52nd minute, Small was gone just seven later for what appeared to be a careless use of his hand to flick the ball out of the hands of Evan O'Carroll.

Gavin's initial assessment was that Small's was "just a clumsy challenge".

"I don't think there was anything malicious in what John did. Surprised to see that he went, maybe the linesman said something to the referee I'm not too sure, but I was surprised he was sent-off for that challenge."

As for Bernard Brogan - who took part in a collective but light training session last week - Gavin was both optimistic and cautious.

The Dublin manager effectively ruled Brogan out of playing any part in the three 'Super Eights' games but stressed how he was "doing his damnedest to get back on the pitch".

"He's running around. He's trim, he's eager. So it depends on how far we can go in the competition. Obviously we have those three games coming up.

"It's probably whether we can get another game after that to see Bernard.

"But I'll tell you what, he's trying his damnedest, and it's great to have him around as well, just for the squad.

"He's such an enthusiastic and positive man, and it's good to have him around."

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