Jim Gavin deflects the praise onto his players

By Brendan O'Brien

Another season, a few more slices of history for the Dubs. Not just on the pitch, but along the sideline, too.

Jim Gavin is robotic in his deflection of credit. A man who speaks about 'preparation pieces' and 'esprit de corps', he has always resolutely refused to entertain any question or interview request that diverts attention from his players onto him.

That's his prerogative but it shouldn't be ours.

Not since Cork defended Sam under Billy Morgan in 1990 has a county stacked All-Ireland football titles back-to-back under the same boss. Lest we forget, Kerry's wins in 2006 and 2007 were claimed under the guidance of Jack O'Connor and Pat O'Shea respectively.

Gavin could easily be forgiven for embracing the limelight after this.

Mick Fitzsimons, ushered in as one of three changes from the drawn game, was named man of the match. Cormac Costello, pulled from the abyss of the squad's fringe, was called on late and won the damn thing with three points.

Bernard Brogan, dropped from the starters, added another.

Quite a day's work then for Mr Gavin and yet he made it all sound so routine. As he does.

"Part of their culture and their value system is they are about the sum of the parts," he said of the squad. "Players are obviously disappointed that they don't play. But once it's explained to them that it's for the greater good …

"I thought the boys who started today did really well. And ... Bernard coming in, Cormac getting three from the bench, even Darren Daly deep into the game got probably a match-winning block.

"That epitomised to me the spirit and the character in this Dublin team; they showed that to me in the drawn game and they showed it to me today when Mayo threw everything and anything at them."

Listening to Costello himself some minutes later was to hear his master's voice again. A team of talents they may be but Dublin's players and management never fail to reinforce that order: team first, players second.

"It was up and down," said the 22-year old. "I was gassed after about five minutes. The intensity was big. Fair play to Mayo they brought a huge amount of intensity and I'm just delighted we came out on the right side of it."

Costello's own star was rising on a seemingly inexorable upward path when he started the 2014 Al-Ireland semi-final against Donegal but he got lost in the constellation of blue light that is the Dublin panel thereafter.

A bit player this year, he saved his best till last.

"He’s played well in training," said Gavin. "Those three points that he got, I could give you lots of tape from training games and training in general that he kicks. That’s the form he’s in. We had faith in him. We believed he would have an impact with his pace.

"He has been an outstanding player underage – had a little bit of a dip in form – but has come back strong now. With his club Whitehall Colmcilles, we had seen that form as well. He timed his run."

The Dubs, too.

Mayo's enduring itch will probably dominate the post-mortem now that the latest All-Ireland campaigning season has come to a belated end but it shouldn't deflect from this fourth title in six years for a team that isn't near done yet.

How does Gavin rate this latest, then?

"They're all uniquely special. We've played, over two games, against this incredible Mayo side. I don't think they probably got as much credit ... people went after our performance piece in the first game, but it was all due to the intensity that Mayo brought to that game and the defensive system which they tweaked with mid-season.

"I thought defensively in both games they were superb. I said it going into the game – there's only a bounce of a ball between us and that remains the case."

There he goes again: deflecting all that credit.

What odds now a three-in-a-row?


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