Jim Gavin regards Dublin’s All-Ireland final opponents Kerry as a team of the now, not the future. At yesterday afternoon’s final press conference in Parnell Park, Gavin was fulsome in his praise for Peter Keane’s team.
“They’ve had a lot of experience with that core group and their time is right now, it’s not next year. 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.”
Referencing the counties’ Division 1 meeting in Tralee six months ago, Gavin spoke of Kerry’s energy. “We got a real close look at them on the second of February, early February anyway, when we played them.
“Obviously, they were full of running, I was acutely aware they had done a heavy pre-season back in November so that carried through, they were very fit and full of energy, and they were a very impressive side in close-up.
“That was good to see in some respects. And then to see their journey through the National League, they were very accomplished, and seeing them in the Munster games, they opened up against Cork, maybe in their first six attacks they had 1-5 on the board.
“Going into the quarter-final series, they still continued that form against Mayo, with 19 attacks and 15 points on the board, that’s impressive.
“Contrast that then to 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, that’s a serious team.”
Gavin expects Stephen O’Brien will be free to play against Dublin on September 1.
As for the knocks picked up by Paul Mannion and Con O’Callaghan, Gavin was reporting a clean bill of health. “Obviously, a couple of knocks, a lot of sore bodies from the semi-final. There was a lot on the line, bumps and niggles but nothing too dramatic.”
Gavin also spoke of how a photograph of the Dublin panel to face Mayo in the match programme was leaked on Friday. “I heard that, yeah. So what we do is we give it to the county board, one of our selectors does the administration of that.
"Then after that it’s whatever those protocols (are) – when it’s to be released, you’d need to check with Croke Park on that one.
“We just give it to them, I’m not particularly concerned after that. Obviously, we need to give it early in the week and there’s a lot around that in terms of the players we are dealing with, they are amateurs, they are volunteering their time, they are all going to work, there’s different dynamics that can change. I don’t get too upset about it, don’t at all, actually. It is what it is.”
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Regarding the five-in-a-row, the 48-year-old maintained it’s not a motivation for Dublin to do what Kerry failed to achieve in 1982 but simply win an All-Ireland final: “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. I have never looked in the past for any motivation, and that’s even internally.
“The team is very humble, it has got its two feet 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, 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. And someday it will all be finished for them and the baton will be passed on to somebody else.
“We’re acutely aware of how fine the margins have been in recent times and looking at Kerry and how they’ve performed this season, they certainly have no business in thinking anything but trying to execute a performance against them.”