Sunday 17 December 2017

Jim Gavin - we must be fair to every player

Connolly may be next star to return ahead of key League trip to Castlebar on Saturday

Jim Gavin
Jim Gavin
Diarmuid ~~Connolly

"IT can be a rough sea," surmised Jim Gavin, sounding quite prophetic for a Monday afternoon, "but we are going to hold our course and we are very much in control of where we want to go."

Presumably, and in the context of the very immediate, that means upwards, given Dublin currently reside second-from-bottom in Division 1 of the Allianz Football League with just three points from four matches but Gavin knows better than anyone how useless spring form can be.

"We are trying new things, tactically we are trying new things. Some are working, some don't.

"That is part of the process. And we want to give players a chance to stake a claim not only in the starting XV or squad of 26 but on the panel itself.

"To do that, there is a process you have to go through and you have to give every player a fair chance."

In this, Gavin has been consistent all year though his ever-changing team's performances haven't.

"The most disappointing thing is we didn't get the ball into our forwards," he said, having number-crunched Saturday night's draw with Tyrone, a match best consigned to that part of one's memory only recalled in times of absolute necessity.

"We don't need to have our half-backs taking shots from difficult angles.

"We just needed a little bit of patience to work the balls into the areas and that sometimes takes one, two, possibly ten more passes for that to happen.

"But there were other occasions, where we did show that. We created some very good scores in the game as well. But at times, they let us down."

"To see the ball turned over like that, was disappointing from a performance perspective," he added of a game in which Dublin frequently faced a 15-man Tyrone defence but on in which his team nevertheless siphoned a point having required a goal in a game when such chances were non existent.

"I thought Eoghan (O'Gara) did very well in terms of his decision-making in that particular moment, to spin inside, getting behind the cover and playing a very good pass, a square pass, for Dean to finish," he praised.

"Eoghan was in a similar situation last August (against Donegal in the All-Ireland semi-final when he missed Bernard Brogan with an attempted squared pass) and it is good to see that he has learnt from that - and he executed his hand pass extremely well."

Saturday was, however, the first seasonal signs of Stephen Cluxton, Paul Flynn and James McCarthy.

Throw in Michael Darragh Macauley, Ger Brennan and Diarmuid Connolly and you have yourself the outline of the 2013 All-Ireland winning team.


And Connolly, it seems, is nearing a return.

Gavin clarified that the 2014 Footballer of the Year nominee played with St Vincent's last Sunday and would now return to his squad, adding: "potentially he could be involved at the weekend," allaying fears that Connolly had suffered from overuse these past two years.

"He got a very good break over the winter/Christmas period. He hasn't played any of the national league so far so any of those players who are with the club who are coming back to us I think they will be fresh.

"But certainly it is something that one needs to manage. The only person who knows how fresh they are is the player himself despite all the science we have behind it."

Gavin added that Gavin Burke, who is currently with Dessie Farrell's Under 21 squad, will also be elevated to seniordom when Dublin's involvement in the former is concluded.

Of the fact that the Dublin versus Tyrone game, barely watchable in itself, was practically blockbuster in comparison to the Donegal/Monaghan game in Letterkenny, Gavin was analytical as ever.

"When they meet you are invariably going to get a very low scoring game and like ourselves, when a defensive mind team meets an attack minded teams, it's going to be something similar as well.

"Defensives are difficult to penetrate now. They are so disciplined with good players playing in all teams.

"So that's just the challenge we have in our game. But I fully understand why people find it frustrating to watch," concluded the Dublin boss.


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