Tuesday 25 September 2018

Gavin: it's all about process of winning

Fitzmaurice complains over Donaghy treatment but maintains the gap to Dublin isn't that great

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the cup after the Allianz Football League Division 1 Final win over Kerry in Croke Park Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the cup after the Allianz Football League Division 1 Final win over Kerry in Croke Park Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

It's probably safe to say that neither winning Leagues nor beating Kerry gets old or boring for Dublin but there's a monotony now to their dominance that is pushing this team ever closer towards greatness.

Yesterday, they became the first team to win four League titles on the bounce since the side, considered the greatest of them all, Kerry's 70s masters.

Where they stand in relation to the legends of football wasn't, naturally enough, something Dublin wanted to debate too deeply though.

"Looking back is for when you retire," as Stephen Cluxton said afterwards when he and Jim Gavin arrived in the media room for questioning.


"It will be great when I eventually retire and see what I have won. I don't have any focus on it like that."

Still, it was both odd and accurate for a Kerry manager to be sitting in that same media room a couple of minutes earlier musing just how wide the gap was between his team and Dublin.

Jim Gavin, Éamonn Fitzmaurice stressed, was "brilliant at his job".

"Because for him to be able to keep the levels of hunger that he has in a group that has been so successful over the last couple of years, it's remarkable really.

"So, I think you have to give Dublin a lot of credit from that point of view.

"There is a gap there, evidently, but I don't think it's a huge gap," the Kerryman added.

Jim Gavin has now overseen nine major trophies in 10 attempts, though asked where all the silverware had come from, the Dublin manager stated: "We're representing our county and just want to be the best that we can be in every competition we play and if there's things to be won along the way, we'll take them.

"But it's all about that process of trying to be our best," he added, "and the outcome of that is the four Leagues."

For Kerry, it was another disappointing experience in Dublin's company, an indication perhaps that their inferiority is widening.

Yesterday was their fifth loss in a row to Dublin in Croke Park.

Fitzmaurice has lost six of the seven League and Championship matches against Gavin.

They tired physically and mentally, though Fitzmaurice wasn't happy with the lack of protection afforded to Kieran Donaghy - Dublin supporters' pantomime villain - by referee, Eddie Kinsella.

"In general Kieran finds it very hard to get frees," Fitzmaurice began.

"It was part of the reason that we decided to play him out the field during the League because it frustrates him, it frustrates us looking in at it and never mind when the ball is coming in, before the ball comes in he gets a lot of treatment.


"He doesn't get frees for it and, like I said, it was one of the reasons we decided to move him out the field, give him a bit of freedom, give him a chance to play a bit of football, which he has done very effectively for us during the League.

"Before half-time," Fitzmaurice continued, "when he was inside there, he caught a ball inside and there was a very soft free given out and then there was basically rape and pillage going on inside in front of the goals at the other side in the second half and we didn't get anything.

"It's frustrating but it is what it is. We know it, we know it coming up, we know playing the games that that's the way it's going to be and we just have to keep going."

Gavin, naturally, had a different take on it all.

"I thought our defence coped admirably with him," he said.

"He is a very big player, very talented footballer, not easily watched if you take your eye off Kieran he will punish you with goals and points.

"I thought our defence played a very fair game, we were very disciplined in our tackling, we had a very good structure around the broken ball and guys really committed themselves to that breaking ball and I thought we coped with it really, really well."

Gavin wasn't completely happy with events of the day, mind. Afterwards, two players from both teams were selected for random drug testing by the Irish Sports Council, an "invasive" process, Gavin felt, which took place while all the post-match pageantry was taking place on the pitch.

Gavin reckoned the process "could be managed better".

"You have amateur players immediately after games (being tested) is not appropriate," he stated.

"They all want to enjoy the success or deal with losing a game I think the last thing they need is somebody coming down and having an invasive procedure taking place (blood testing).


"There is plenty of time during the week of a game to pop out to us or immediately afterwards every team has some recovery protocol on the day after a game so there is plenty of opportunity to get your samples if you need them.

"But even today we had four players there (who were tested) the 'Laochra' was taking place outside and they're in the dungeons of the stadium being closed off and not having access to the entertainment did not just sit right.

"They are the athletes that people came to watch today and for them to be treated that way I don't think it was appropriate."

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