Gavin seeking consistent level of performance from Dubs

Dublin manager Jim Gavin professed himself to be happy with the result but not the performance after securing the capital's third successive Leinster SFC title yesterday afternoon.

Gavin seeking consistent level of performance from Dubs

Dublin manager Jim Gavin professed himself to be happy with the result but not the performance after securing the capital's third successive Leinster SFC title yesterday afternoon.

The Dubs' dominance of the province continued - it was their eighth Delaney Cup success in nine years - but it was not until Paul Mannion's opportunist goal on the hour mark that they were able to shake Meath off on the way to a 2-15 to 0-14 win.

"I'm happy with the result, but the performance? No. I have spoken at length at how we are trying to achieve a consistency in our display. We came up against a very good team in Meath," admitted Gavin afterwards.

The ever-improving Royals, in Mick O'Dowd's first season in charge, will take a good deal of credit for their display at a sun-splashed Croke Park, with the victors enduring a worrying scoreless spell between the 23rd minute and half-time.

There were deficiencies in Dublin's game that were previously unexposed, particularly at midfield and kick-out time. Coming into the final they had swept Westmeath and Kildare aside by 16-point margins, but Gavin's side will be all the better for experiencing a much stiffer test in the decider.

They went in at half-time 0-9 to 1-4 behind but did well to score 1-11 in a strong second half showing, with youngsters like Mannion (1-4), Ciaran Kilkenny (0-3) and industrious wing backs James McCarthy and Jack McCaffrey coming to the fore.

Gavin feels that phase one is 'kinda done' now and that his panel can knuckle down over the next few weeks and seek out the further improvements required for the All-Ireland quarter-finals and beyond.

"We keep winning, that's what it is about. And once we keep winning and link in the consistency of performance that we have been searching for (I'm happy), but we haven't got it yet. The players know there are lots of areas to improve on over the next couple of weeks.

"There is incremental improvement all the way. It was such a physical battle. At half-time, it was a very close game and only in the last quarter we pulled away. So that's very satisfying in that regard.

"There were a lot of hard questions asked of the team, probably for the first time since we played in the league final. And that's twice they have responded. I'm happy in that regard," he concluded.

For this young Meath side to put it up to the reigning Allianz League and Leinster champions, given that they played two divisions below the Dubs in the spring, must have encouraged the management team and watching fans.

however, it might only be in quiet reflection this week that Royals boss Mick O'Dowd feels that way. After the game itself, he insisted: "I'm devastated. After losing a Leinster final, how do you think I am?

"We didn't come here to get a heartening display. We came here to get a Leinster title and we didn't do it. Our first half showed what we wanted to do. Our second half didn't."

Chasing their first provincial crown since 2010, Meath have had quite an overhaul of players since then and promising forwards Mickey Newman and Eamon Wallace - catching the eye alongside a rejuvenated Stephen Bray - were experiencing their first big final.

It is an arena that O'Dowd is desperate for his players to compete in more regularly, adding: "We have to get used to performing against teams the calibre of Dublin. That is the first time we have done it this year but we were really looking forward to that challenge.

"They have been playing teams of a similar standard to themselves all this year (in the top flight of the league). We have just been meeting them today. That is our first step up to that standard.

"We were under a bit of pressure most of the second half but the last 15 minutes is probably when teams used to that intensity can kick on and win games and we weren't able to do it.

"I'm sure there are a lot of positives from that display but it is hard to go through them now because we are pretty hurt by the result."

O'Dowd will have to rally his troops for the fourth round of the All-Ireland qualifiers at the end of the month, when they are back in action against either Kildare or Tyrone at a neutral venue.

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