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Wednesday 22 August 2018

Gavin faces major calls

Costello makes strong stake for starting berth against Tribe

CLINICAL: Paul Flynn scores Dublin’s side’s first goal despite the efforts of Roscommon’s John McManus Photo: Sportsfile
CLINICAL: Paul Flynn scores Dublin’s side’s first goal despite the efforts of Roscommon’s John McManus Photo: Sportsfile

The way Jim Gavin explained it, his team selection yesterday was about "giving guys opportunities rather than resting players".

To that end, the Dublin manager surely left Croke Park satisfied, albeit with a selection dilemma, complicated by a couple of men who took their opportunity with both hands yesterday and a clock ticking towards this coming Saturday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final with a wounded Galway team.

"Anybody who was on the pitch there put in a really big shift, for the team, not for themselves," Gavin noted, although there were a couple of players who did their personal claims the power of good.

Caveat

"They played for each other and that was the rationale from the management team's perspective, to see that," Gavin went on.

"Obviously it creates more challenges for us now going into next Saturday. A lot of players put their hands up today to travel and that's a great way to have it."

IT’S OVER: Dublin’s Cormac Costello slots a point off his left foot as Roscommon’s Niall McInerney tries to block him down. Photo: Sportsfile
IT’S OVER: Dublin’s Cormac Costello slots a point off his left foot as Roscommon’s Niall McInerney tries to block him down. Photo: Sportsfile

The caveat, of course, was that they were playing Roscommon who, remarkably, conceded 4-24 for the second time in three games yesterday.

On a day when they were already out of the championship, fielded three debutants and had their manager, Kevin McStay, looking on from an analysis booth while he served the only match of his 12-week ban, Roscommon took their concession tally for these inaugural 'Super 8s' to 8-68.

But still, Dublin's wannabes filled their boots.

The scoring form of Dublin's inside line has been a cause of some concern in recent weeks in the capital but yesterday, Cormac Costello did as much to start against Galway as a man possibly could have.

He kicked nine points in just 43 minutes on the pitch.

Included in which were six points from play, two free and a '45'.

And for Gavin to withdraw Costello so early given his clear eagerness to play as many minutes as possible suggests his manager was keeping him fresh for significant involvement next week.

Costello has endured a cruelly luckless past four years with injury but he was clearly the sharpest player on the pitch yesterday and though he skied a clear goal chance for his fourth point from play, he missed nothing else.

"Cormac's been showing that form for a good few months now," Gavin stressed.

"He's applied himself really well this year and been very dedicated to his sport. A result of all the hard work was the performance you seen today, but we've been seeing that from him in the shadows.

"It was great for him and also great for the team."

Eoghan O'Gara scored 2-2 and though he was mobbed and turned over too many times to be considered a starter for next Saturday, this was his first championship involvement of the summer and his immense power and danger close to goal makes him a live option off the bench again.

Michael Darragh Macauley, who started on the bench in Omagh for the first time this summer, also had his moments in midfield while Paul Flynn's 1-3 reflected a fine day's work.

"It's a big challenge and as a management team," Gavin acknowledged of his task this week.

"We just pick 26 players that will represent the group that we believe as best they can.

"At any one time there will be 15 players who we deem will perform to the best of their ability."

Flynn's goal and O'Gara's first killed this as a contest in the first half and it degenerated to a training exercise thereafter.

Gavin will have concerns about the fact that his team coughed up 2-16 and needed Stephen Cluxton to stop three further Roscommon goal chances.

Mick Fitzsimons struggled with Diarmuid Murtagh from the off while Dublin's handling errors were more prevalent than usual.

"It is a challenge, for any team, but everyone has the same challenge so it's an equal playing field," said Gavin of having just six days now to prepare for Galway.

"But as I said, our rationale was to give those players opportunities.

"At this stage of the season, they're very well conditioned. Any of the teams can turn things around in that period of time so I don't see an issue."

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