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Friday 15 November 2019

'It was not good enough today' - Gavin

Dublin boss praises 'mental strength' of his players after champs fight back to clinch draw in dramatic final with Kerry

Dublin’s Paul Mannion is well marshalled by Kerry’s Tadhg Morley
Dublin’s Paul Mannion is well marshalled by Kerry’s Tadhg Morley

Jim Gavin deals mostly in exact measurements and statistics but by the time he presented himself for questioning after yesterday's All-Ireland final draw, he hadn't the numbers to quantify what impact Jonny Cooper's sending off had on a performance he could only describe as "disappointing."

"Over the full expanse of the game," he said in succinct summation, "it just wasn't good enough."

Given the precarious positions they've played their way out over the previous five unbeaten summers, you'd be reluctant to discount Dublin from coming back from any situation.

But at one stage, a point down with 74 minutes on the board and Kerry in possession to be exact, things looked pretty bleak for Gavin's team in their efforts to make history.

"We played well in patches of the first half," he pointed out.

"We went five points up and they got a point relating from that sending-off, pushed ahead and we went five up in the second.

"The guys, we know them well and they are mentally very strong, great mental reserve there - a resilient football team.

"A point down with 72 minutes on the clock, the perception might have been that the game has gone away from them.

Short-changed

"All credit to the Dublin players, they tackled and kept their disciplined and turned Kerry over, and created opportunities for themselves - could have taken one or two more.

"We didn't and that's the disappointing thing, so we'll have to reflect as best we can and move onto the next game."

For the record, Gavin didn't exactly dispute Cooper's red card.

Nor did he see the sense in the widely held notion that the Na Fianna man, having been booked early, should have been switched away from the forward Kerry tried to repeatedly furnish with as much possession as possible.

Clearly, Cooper's sending off had an influence, but the bare facts are that Dublin led by five points at the moment David Gough issued a second yellow and then a red card.

Twenty minutes later, they still led by five.

Gavin wasn't inclined to delve too analytically into the performance.

But given the circumstances, you suspect it was the attacking end of the bargain where he'd been short-changed.

For all the possession won in attacking areas, Gavin would have expected a greater scoring return from Con O'Callaghan and Paul Mannion than 0-3 from play, even if the former drew plenty of fouls and the latter handled plenty of ball.

And the Dublin bench, their source of unmatchable strength in previous All-Ireland finals, didn't score.

Cormac Costello and Diarmuid Connolly kicked a wide each and Paddy Small, Gavin's first attacking replacement, left two shots short.

Against that, Dublin coughed up four goal chances. James McCarthy cleared a Paul Geaney shot off the line in the first half.

Stephen Cluxton saved a penalty and tipped Paul Murphy's rasper on to the crossbar, all before Killian Spillane's game-changing strike in the 56th minute.

These are the details Gavin is currently poring over.

What he wasn't inclined to entertain yesterday was the notion that the hand of history had somehow weighed down on his team yesterday, curbing their customary verve.

"From our perspective, every day we go out it's about performing to the best of your ability," he noted.

"It wasn't good enough today, simple as that.

"No excuses for it, we just need to go away and try to learn from it and come back the next day and perform to our best and represent Dublin.

"That's the way we have always looked at it."

Not that he'd be inclined to examine anything other than the recent past, but the omens for Dublin are good.

They haven't lost a replay in a Championship match since 'Pillar' Caffrey's first year as manager in 2005.

Yesterday was the ninth All-Ireland final in a row Dublin have gone unbeaten in.

If there was a sense of anticlimax when Gough blew his whistle for full-time in the 43rd minute of the second half after Dean Rock's missed free, Gavin knew full well they could easily have been in a much worse position at that stage.

"Just disappointed with our performance, that's the overriding thought," he shrugged.

"As I said, the resilience the Dublin players showed to be on the ropes as such and to still to keep moving and keep creating scoring chances, keep turning the ball over, that's obviously the impressive piece.

"But overall in the expanse of the game, just not good enough from the standards the players set for themselves, not what I set for them.

"I know when they reflect they'll have a lot to say and all we've done today by getting a draw is give ourselves an opportunity to come out again here in 13 days.

"And hopefully get a better performance. And if we can do that," he added, "hopefully we'll be there or thereabouts at the end of the game."

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