Monday 11 December 2017

Jim Gavin: We've got catching up to do

Dubs boss keeps counsel on Connolly saga as Kerry loom

Philip McMahon celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal, as Mayo players surround referee Eddie Kinsella in protest
Philip McMahon celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal, as Mayo players surround referee Eddie Kinsella in protest
Diarmuid Connolly, James McCarthy and Denis Bastick stand for Amhrán na bhFiann

Question: "Jim, given the circumstances, any doubts about starting Diarmuid Connolly?"

Jim Gavin: "No."

Suffice to say, both have had more straight-forward, less time and thought draining weeks.

But both men came out on the far side into an All-Ireland final.

You couldn't but conclude, given his comparatively muted display, that Connolly had been jaded by the whole affair, dragging - as it did - into the wee hours of Saturday morning, at which point he was cleared on a technically and told to grab his boots by Gavin

If Gavin harboured any grievances about the saga, he wasn't about to air them there and then in the media room underneath the Hogan Stand.

Perhaps he'll let us all in on his thoughts on September 20 after the All-Ireland final but for now, the Dublin manager erred on the side of formality.

"No, we just engaged with the process, it's there for us, it's there for any team to use and that's what we did," he said when asked whether he felt his vice-captain had been sent off in the wrong in the drawn match.

"We took advice from the administrators of the Dublin County Board and they supported us all the way."

Perhaps Gavin's grievance was that Connolly was the only player banned but again, maybe that's for another day.

"I'd say of all the county teams the Dublin players are used to a lot of external stuff going on," he said, denying the three nights of speculation had affected his team.

"So they are quite accustomed to those external distractions and they are quite good at getting into a performance bubble and blocking it out.


"We actually enjoyed this week, we had good fun getting ready for this game and I think the way they played they showed that."

Gavin wasn't inclined to dissect the finer elements of a fine performance but he couldn't but be impressed by the way his team stormed Mayo for two goals, then teased them into pressing up and then finishing them off.

"I thought the boys stuck well at the process and we knew if we did that we'd put ourselves in a position to hopefully get the result," he said.

"They are a class side and they have demonstrated that for many years.

"We knew they would get opportunities and we knew they would get good scores. It was just a matter of us maintaining our composure and control, I thought we did that very well throughout the game.

"Our levels of intensity were consistent throughout the game and eventually we got some gaps and the thankfully the boys took their chances."

All of which bodes well for the final.

Had Dublin fallen over the line last week, there'd be more uncertainty ahead of another All-Ireland with Kerry.

Now, they looked battle-hardened and tuned-in.

"We've a bit of catching up to do," he pointed out.

"I know their (Kerry) management team were here for the Leinster final, the league final, the last two games, so they've got a good look at us.

"A team full of stars, not only on the starting 15 but also on the bench as well. And there's an expectation that they are going to win it back-to-back. So it's all uphill for us.

"We've had a really enjoyable summer. We had great fun this week getting ready for the game and we'll do likewise in two weeks' time.

"We'll just try and be the best we can be. "

On the point of the two games in the last two weeks finally forcing Dublin into the extremities of their ability, Gavin concluded: "You need to prepare as diligently as you can for those games as the game we just played. So as a group we were tested.


"The intensity isn't there but it's still a process you need to go through. Any of those games, if you don't go in with the right attitude you will get hurt, in terms of losing the game.

"The guys have showed a good application. There is no doubt that those two games will have stood us in good stead.

"As a management team, we would have learnt a lot about ourselves in the heat of battle," he added.

"You just can't replicate that."

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