By Paul Keane
Dublin manager Jim Gavin has reacted with surprise to the claim that former Sky Blues players privately agreed to put pressure on All-Ireland final replay referee Maurice Deegan through the media.
Ger Brennan and Paul Clarke appeared in the print media this week and spoke upon similar lines about apparent rough treatment meted out by Mayo's Lee Keegan to Diarmuid Connolly in the drawn final.
Both players were booked after a 62nd minute flash point and Connolly received a red card, which was later over turned, for striking Keegan during last year's drawn All-Ireland semi-final tie.
Some Mayo supporters have claimed on social media this week that there is a clear campaign being orchestrated by ex-Dublin players to put pressure on Deegan to clamp down on Keegan on Saturday.
Speaking on Newstalk radio on Wednesday evening, former Mayo midfielder David Brady said he believes ex-Dubs have definitely got together to make a public point.
"I'm not saying this is coming from Jim Gavin but it's coming from somewhere up on high," said Brady. "It's an orchestrated list of facts, opinions, statistics and arguments that, you know what, Lee Keegan is a marked man.
"It's not what we should be talking about in the lead-up to what could be possibly one of the greatest GAA games ever, if both sides improve from what they did the last day. It's not what it should be about."
Speaking this morning at a press briefing at the Gibson Hotel, Gavin (pictured) said he wasn't aware there'd been so much discussion about the Keegan/Connolly head to head.
"It's a physical contact sport," he said when asked about the issue. "We tell the players to get out there and play. Mayo play a physical contact game. What happened (Keegan's marking of Connolly) is predictable. Diarmuid is well able to look after himself. It certainly hasn't been spoken of in those terms (as a media campaign) in the Dublin camp, that's for sure."
Gavin revealed that he's convened his players for four pitch sessions since the drawn game. He said that he will pick his team for the replay this evening with question marks over the heads of misfiring attackers Bernard Brogan, Kevin McManamon and Paul Flynn.
"They obviously get feedback from the coaching staff on areas to improve on," said Gavin of his players generally. "But I have to say, to their eternal credit, they just want to see what is best for the team. So whether a player is starting a game or finishing a game, or is part of the 30-man squad, everyone's nose is pointed in the same direction. They want to do the best for the team to get a team performance."
Former Dublin defender Brennan stated earlier this week that Dublin have lost some of their 'adventure' and need to be more attacking and direct. Asked if Dublin would alter their tactics for the replay, Gavin shook his head.
"No, absolutely not," he said. "We played a few games of football (in training). There's great competition for places. The players want to play.
"Our training is consistent, catching and kicking, backs and forwards. We train just to play football. There's a great trust there amongst the group and they all realise that whatever team is on the pitch representing their county is representing the group also.
"They'll all play their part, whether they're asked to finish or to start."
As for the drawn game, when Dublin kicked just six points from open play and were gifted two own goals, Gavin acknowledged they were below par.
"There's a number of contributory factors but at the end of it all, they just didn't perform and that's what they need to address the next day. And if they don't, we're playing a great team and we won't get the result."