Gavin's emergence a boost as Jim leads tributes to Gilmartin
It wasn't lost on Jim Gavin last Sunday that the day carried a sense of poignancy for GAA people in Roscommon.
On Saturday, 24 hours before Dublin arrived in Dr Hyde Park, the last surviving member of the most recent Roscommon team to win the All-Ireland in 1944, Liam Gilmartin, passed away at the age of 97.
Stately as ever, Gavin was familiar with Gilmartin's exploits.
"Liam would have lived in Dublin for a good part of his life," the Dublin manager said afterwards, "and was a member of An Garda Síochána and today is a sad day for his family and we extend our condolences to the Gilmartin family and extended friends and obviously to Roscommon GAA, for the loss of one of their outstanding players of his time.
"My father would have talked, and his generation would have talked, of Liam Gilmartin playing with the great Roscommon team of '43 and '44.
"And I believe he got TB (tuberculosis) when he joined An Garda Síochána at a very young age, 23.
"Liam is remembered up in Dublin. We can probably even claim him as a Dub in some respects. He's a big loss."
Captain of Roscommon when they won their first minor title in 1939, Gilmartin played at midfield on the back-to-back All-Ireland senior teams of 1943 and '44.
He lived in Raheny after moving to Dublin although his playing career was cut short by tuberculosis.
"I didn't see him play but my father's generation would have talked about his exploits in midfield," Gavin added.
The Dublin manager also complimented the standard of fielding in the preceding game, adding it had been "a fitting tribute".
And chief among the midfielders on show was Darren Gavin, the rangy Lucan Sarsfields player in whom Gavin has invested so much game-time this spring.
Midfield has been a comparably fallow area for the emergence of players since the explosion of Brian Fenton in 2015 but already, Gavin has been tipped for big things by his UCD Sigerson Cup manager, John Divilly.
"I think he's a big prospect," said Divilly back in January as Gavin formed a formidable midfield partnershp with Mayo's Stephen Coen to help the Belfield college reach this year's semi-final, where they lost to St Mary's, Belfast.
"If he doesn't nestle in beside Brian Fenton this year, I've no doubt in the next two or three years that he'll be a big prospect for Jim Gavin."
Similarly, Brian Howard has been impressed with the player who won the Man of the Match award in the 2017 All-Ireland U21 final against Galway in which Howard also played for Dublin.
"He has so much about him," the Raheny man insisted. "He didn't really play underage with Dublin, but from day one with the under-21s I knew he was going to be a big player.
"Because he came in and had such a big presence, not only because of his height but overall his attitude was incredible.
"Coming into senior a lot of the other lads mightn't have known him, obviously they'd heard about him from playing under-21s and having such a good year.
"Coming in this year he had a great campaign with UCD, was flying with them and then coming into the seniors if someone is playing well Jim will give him the chance, so he's gotten his chance and taken it so far."
It's a well-worn passageway to seniordom that Howard himself journeyed in 2017.
Howard's impressively enhanced physique was cited as being at least part of the reason for his quick adjustment to the senior ranks but he says now that it's not necessarily a requirement.
"He moves so freely and you never really see him getting into contact," Howard stressed.
"But that could be something that he's going to go after but I don't know because whatever he's doing now, it's working.
"Naturally the hits are going to be bigger and opposition are going to be a lot tougher," he observed,
"But the lads that mightn't be that big, they develop in different ways and might bring something completely different to the team," he added.