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Tuesday 22 October 2019

Gavin staying calm in eye of the storm

Dublin manager reports a clean bill of health as Kerry challenge comes into focus

Manager Jim Gavin at a Dublin Football All-Ireland Final Press Conference at Parnell Park
Manager Jim Gavin at a Dublin Football All-Ireland Final Press Conference at Parnell Park

By the time we interviewed Jim Gavin in Parnell Park yesterday, less than 24 hours had passed since Kerry beat Tyrone to set up the All-Ireland final we've all secretly been hoping for since the start of the football year.

At that stage Jim Gavin, stately as ever in his public utterances, had been furnished with enough information about Dublin's opponents on September 1 to indicate he wasn't exactly surprised they were there.

"They opened up against Cork, maybe in their first six attacks they had 1-5 on the board," he said, referring in minute detail to Kerry's Munster final victory in Páirc Uí Chaoimh back on the evening June 22nd

"Going into the quarter-final series," the Dublin manager went on, "they still continued that form against Mayo, with 19 attacks and 15 points on the board.

"That's impressive," he noted, sounding a counterpoint to the din made about his own team's exemplary second-half conversion rate in Croke Park on Saturday evening.

"Contrast that then the last day in the semi-final against Tyrone, four points down at half-time and different questions asked of them and they reacted in the appropriate way and finished with aplomb."

"So that's not a team that's developing," Gavin added, "that's a serious team."

"They are on the money and we're going to have to execute a performance to try and be up there with them, and hopefully up there at the end."

"They've had a lot of experience with that core group and their time is right now, it's not next year."

In the context of Dublin and Gavin's legacy, it would be a most inopportune time for this Kerry team to win just the county's second All-Ireland of the decade.

highest number

If Dublin win on September 1, not only will they achieve the elusive five-in-a-row, they will have landed the highest number of All-Irelands for a county in a single decade.

In doing so, they'll consign Kerry to historically thei r worst decade.

Of these facts/statistics, Gavin was demonstrably less informed. Nor was he all that interested.

"For me, all I'm interested in is the players going out there, trying to be their best and trying to execute their best performance," he said.

"I have never looked in the past for any motivation, and that's even internally.

"The team is very humble, it has got it's two foot on the ground, it understands what it's purpose is, and that's that the players have a great drive that way to represent their county and their clubs and their communities and their parishes and their families and their mums and dads to the best of their ability.

Sore bodies

"And to try and build on legacies that have been left by the team, be it '53 or '63 or the '70s or '83 or '95, they're just trying to add to that, and that's really whose shoulders they stand upon."

Gavin diagnosed his squad as having a "good bill of clean health," despite the accumulation of "a couple of knocks," resulting in "a lot of sore bodies," from the Meath game.

As the press conference was ending, most of the Dublin players were arriving in Parnell Park, some for gym sessions but almost all for the meet and greet that was organised for supporters afterwards.

It was all very run-of-the mill.

If the county or its team are about to be beset by a tsunami of hype, it won't be this week.

Asked about the leaking of Dublin's official starting XV on Friday night more than 12 hours before it was officially announced, Gavin shrugged: "I don't get too upset about it, don't at all actually. It is what it is."

And like most who have commented on Stephen O'Brien's suspension for the All-Ireland final, Gavin seemed convinced the ban would be lifted.

'You don't want to see any player missing an All-Ireland final," he stressed, "absolutely not.

"I'm sure the Kerry County Board will put their case together."

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