Thursday 18 January 2018

Gavin facing some tough calls

Dublin boss says Laois didn't get sufficient credit for goals they scored in Nowlan Park

Paddy Andrews has recovered from his back injury and is in the reckoning for a starting berth against Meath this Sunday evening. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Paddy Andrews has recovered from his back injury and is in the reckoning for a starting berth against Meath this Sunday evening. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Dublin manager Jim Gavin following a press conference at the Gibson Hotel in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Paddy Andrews is fit and in contention for selection ahead of Dublin's Leinster SFC semi-final with Meath, according to Jim Gavin.

Andrews, who enjoyed his most impressive season as an inter-county footballer last year, missed both the League final win over Kerry in late April and this month's Championship opener against Laois with a back injury, though he has recenly played the last two league matches for his club, St Brigid's, and is, in the words of the Dublin manager, "back playing 100 per cent and available for selection at the weekend".

"He's got over his localised lower back injury now thankfully and getting plenty of rest," Gavin elaborated.

"The medical team did a great job with him and when they felt he was ready to return to play, they got him back in."


Otherwise, Gavin revealed he had doubts over "a few" other players, though he declined to identify which ones, describing the current injury situation as "a few little knocks and injuries (that) came out of the clubs games (last weekend)".

Dublin will train tonight, after which an official team will be announced, though it is likely that there will be at least some change from the side that eased to an 11-point win over Laois.

Paul Flynn was chosen to start that day but was pulled from the starting 15 after suffering a hamstring strain in the warm-up and the Fingallian's man is again a doubt ahead of Sunday.

Paul Mannion stepped in for Flynn, though both Eoghan O'Gara and debutant, Con O'Callaghan, made strong impressions from reserve and one may now force their way in.

Mick Fitzsimons is another who may come into Gavin's selection in a defence that came under renewed scrutiny over the manner in which they conceded two goals to a 14-man Laois team from a position of total control.

"That's the nature of it, we are in the shop window," reckoned Gavin of the airtime given to those negative elements of an otherwise dominant performance in Nowlan Park.

"All of our National League games are on TV, that game was live as well, teams are always looking at us.

"But that's something we do as well.

"You are always trying to see areas you can exploit in that position and areas you can go after. We do the same to the opposition teams.

"I think it is an opportunity, for us to learn, to grow, to put a bit of resilience into our game. It's an experience that we will come out the far side stronger for it.

"At that time we were in a very dominant position, we had been 11 up at half time, we had pushed on, first five minutes started in a very controlled manner.

"It was a slip of concentration and against a side like Laois, we knew they would punish us if we let them.

"Credit probably wasn't given to Laois," he added, "and how they applied themselves in that game and the manner in which they took the goals.

"They were two very good goals and I think people didn't give Laois the credit, rather than looking at Dublin."

Gavin pits his team against a Meath side that has undergone drastic change over the expanse of Mick O'Dowd's managerial tenure.

Just seven of the side that beat Louth in Parnell Park three weeks ago played when last the counties met in the 2014 Leinster final.

Gavin reckoned, however: "We have a good handle on where they're at.

"As we've seen in recent results, there's nothing now between Division 2 and Division 1.

"Either team can have expectations of winning those games and they closed off the National League campaign very well.

"They had to travel to Portlaoise to get a win against Laois to retain their division status so all told they've had a very good start to their season .

"I think if you look at their squad," he went on, "it's a mixture of experienced players that are there, but the lads are trying a lot of young players too.

"We've heard that they're the best prepared Meath team for a Championship game," concluded Gavin in reference to a comment made recently by former Meath footballer, Colm O'Rourke, in his Sunday Independent column.

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