Gavin to end funny week with win
It's been another funny-peculiar week for Team Dublin.
On the pitch, they guaranteed qualification for a sixth consecutive Allianz Football League final. Even if the performance in Galway was patchy and the result (0-13 apiece) ended Dublin's 11-match winning streak, it was still a case of getting the job done and 'let's move on to Monaghan in Croker.'
Off the pitch, however, Jim Gavin has been left to fend awkward questions about Diarmuid Connolly's whereabouts, Cian O'Sullivan's post-surgical recovery and selector Jason Sherlock's involvement in a touchline flashpoint with an opposing Galway player.
That said, to the eternal frustration of the scribbling fraternity, the Dublin boss is an All-Ireland champion when it comes to post-match evasion.
When he wants to get his point across (such as his anger over Mick Fitzsimons' recent one-match ban) Gavin can be crystal clear. Some of his replies last Sunday, though, left his inquisitors with more questions than answers.
Thus, we were told that O'Sullivan had a "procedure" and "hopefully he will recover as quickly as he can" ... but as for a likely comeback date, it was a case of "when he comes back he comes back."
But when will Connolly be back? The answer from Gavin when bluntly asked if he was still on the panel was "yeah, yeah" - even though rumours to the contrary continue to circulate.
The strange thing for Dublin fans to absorb is that a player who missed the majority of last season (for reasons that don't need recycling) has made just one cameo appearance in Mayo this spring, lasting barely half-an-hour, injury-time included.
And yet, according to Gavin, he is fit but is being given a "rest". He listed others (like Kevin McManamon and Darren Daly) who weren't involved in Galway and referenced a few players that "we have to be mindful of the campaigns they've had in the past." Yet both of the above have played a far more pronounced on-field role than Connolly thus far.
The last weekend in May remains the key date in Gavin's mind, far more so than Croke Park tomorrow or even a week later, when league final battle with Galway gets underway.
Only a mug-punter would second-guess the Dublin 15 that takes the field against Monaghan, given the ongoing tendency to make a slew of late (and unannounced) changes to the match programme team.
They weren't full-strength in Pearse Stadium but that doesn't fully explain some of the sloppy turnovers that stretched Galway's advantage with the wind to five points.
Typically, enter the home straight, Dublin scented opportunity and turned up the heat with a high press that almost earned victory. Parity was still enough to end Monaghan hopes of leapfrogging them, making this a dead rubber; but is there ever such a thing when Dublin are involved?
Monaghan cannot afford to sign off on an uplifting league with a crushing defeat that might fuel internal doubts ahead of their Ulster SFC showdown with Tyrone.
That's why we think they'll make this a decent contest. But Dublin, in whatever guise, despise defeat and that was never more obvious than in their injury-time attempts to halt Galway, by fair means or foul.
It's another reason why they won't lose here either.
ODDS: Dublin 1/6 Draw 12/1 Monaghan 9/2
- Allianz FL Division 1 Dublin v Monaghan (Croke Pk, Tomorrow 3.0, deferred TG4)