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Thursday 20 September 2018

'The remarkable thing is that they're always on-script' - Gavin

Con O’Callaghan and Seán Kelly
Con O’Callaghan and Seán Kelly

At this stage no one is surprised by Dublin's stellar consistency in the Allianz League. Well, unless you discount the one man ultimately responsible for it all - Jim Gavin.

We all know the standout statistic after yesterday's latest spring triumph - this was Dublin's fifth Division 1 title in six seasons under Gavin, having reached all six deciders since he climbed into the Sky Blue cockpit.

But here's another stat to underline just how dominant the Dubs have become ...

They have played 52 league ties, finals included, under Gavin. They have lost seven of them, drawn another seven - and won 38. Staggering.

Even more staggering is the fact that this 73pc win per centage has been achieved even as the manager blooded a raft of wannabes, some of whom have progressed into summer starters, many of whom have not.

And even more impressive? Dublin have won four out of five All-Irelands during the same period: championship defeats (or rather defeat, to Donegal in 2014) have been far less frequent.

Dominance

Others have enjoyed similar bouts of spring dominance: Mayo won six leagues on the spin during the 1930s, Kerry won four-in-a-row in the early 1970s ... but neither came remotely close to matching Dublin's follow-up record of September deliverance.

So, historically, that is what sets this Dublin team apart from all others: they are the ultimate spring-summer beast.

And if the holders live up to their 'hot favourites' status in this year's All-Ireland race, that will bring to four the number of league/championship doubles achieved on Gavin's watch.

So, after all that, is the man himself surprised by how they keep on winning league titles?

"It does surprise me," the Dublin boss admitted. "What they achieved last year was remarkable. The easy thing to do was to kick back, which they did. We didn't see them until we had a two-week lead-up into the league. Maybe four big sessions (were) done.

"For them to go away and be so diligent with themselves ... just to come back with the right frame of mind ... that's what the remarkable thing about them is, that they're always on-script.

"They demand so much from each other, and they do genuinely see representing Dublin as a privilege. I don't get any falsehood regarding that. It's a genuine love of the jersey.

"That's what makes Gaelic games. We always say it's a volunteer, community-based sport, and that's the way the guys see it.

Passion

"You could see the passion there in the Galway players as well. They gave everything that they could today.

"But I wouldn't get carried away," he cautioned, as if checking himself. "It's still April. Does it have any relevance to championship? Not really. A lot of water will pass under the bridge before we open our legs up in the first round of the championship."

The manager's summation of what ultimately won it for Dublin, a man down and against the wind, told us something more about this special team.

"We played with great intent and we drove hard and went at them. There was a lot of unselfish work today by the Dublin players, picking up Galway runners. A lot of breaking ball was won, really unselfish work and great hunger shown by the players," he said.

"When the game was there to be won by either team, I really thought the Dublin guys stepped up.

"That is what I find remarkable about them - that they can do that on such a consistent level, especially because they have achieved so much in the past."

Memo to all: they haven't stopped yet.

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