Gavin: 'We must maintain effort and intensity'
DUBLIN'S deconstruction of a talented Westmeath side in their Leinster U21 Football Championship semi-final last Wednesday confirmed they are on the right track to repeat their provincial success of two years ago.
An eight-point lead, built up within the opening six minutes, handed Dublin the dream start and although Westmeath responded impressively, Jim Gavin's men showed character in abundance to pull clear after the interval, ultimately prevailing by 4-15 to 1-9, to set up a final against Louth.
"The finishing was exceptional. It's very important that we can keep the scoreboard ticking over," said Dublin manager Jim Gavin (pictured), who seemed unperturbed with Westmeath's comeback during the second quarter.
"I think it was inevitable that a team of Westmeath's quality was going to enjoy a period of dominance and slowly but surely they worked themselves into the game.
"I've worked very closely with the lads these past three months and they're not a complacent bunch, so I certainly wouldn't put Westmeath's comeback down to any complacency on our part," added Gavin. That Dublin eventually registered a 15-point win spoke volumes for their application, and it was that feature of their display that impressed Gavin in Portlaoise.
"You generally don't expect to get such a good start, but what was most encouraging was the consistent level of effort that we produced against a quality side like Westmeath.
"It's very important that we can maintain that intensity and effort over the hour and I couldn't fault the lads' application in both training and matches", said the 1995 All-Ireland winner. Training over the past few days has been noticeable for a number of absentees with Gavin's panel nursing a number of knocks. Midfielder Emmet Ó Conghaile, who was replaced after 17 minutes against Westmeath, is still struggling but there is better news on goalkeeper John Brian Carthy, who has undergone a number of light sessions.
"The guys are in good form and the recovery process is going well. A good few lads haven't trained with the usual knocks and there is ongoing work with our physio but we would like to see them all in action by the end of the week."
Dublin will face surprise package Louth, who defeated Offaly in the remaining semi-final last Wednesday, in next week's final, with Gavin refusing to look beyond the challenge that the Wee County will present to their national ambitions.
"I would never look beyond the next game as I have too much respect for this competition. It's pure knockout and I've experienced both sides of that sharp sword in the past. It's a fabulous competition that's traditionally very open and has very little cynicism to it. You don't look beyond the next game as there are no guarantees in this competition," stressed the Round Tower Clondalkin clubman.
WIN TICKETS TO U21 final:
Dublin's U21 footballers face Louth in the Cadbury Leinster U21FC final tomorrow week in Navan (7.30). To be in with a chance of winning one of five pairs of tickets to the clash courtesy of Leinster Council, answer the following question:
Who is currently Dublin's top scorer in the Leinster U21 Football Championship? Is it... (A) Paul Hudson (B) Ciarán Kilkenny or (C) Harry Dawson? Send your answers by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Last entry by this Friday at 9pm.