Jim Gavin has a buzz word that crops up in much of his dealings with the media these days. Control.
It’s a simple enough concept and something the Dublin manager has clearly placed a premium on behind the scenes as the All-Ireland holders seek to be ready for whatever is thrown at them this summer.
Dublin lost their control in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final against Donegal but have worked hard since then to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. So far, it hasn’t. What it means to Gavin specifically is being calm and composed and patient in the face of challenges like the one presented by Meath, where they set up with men behind the ball and made some hay for 35 minutes or so.
Another team might have questioned themselves but not a team like Dublin.
“It’s about control, yeah,” said Gavin. “I thought it was a controlled performance from us. It’s that thing of responding to whatever the opposition throw at us. It has become a key attribute and a key characteristic of this football team.
“They’ve built up that resilience over the last few seasons because most teams set up defensively against us. That’s just the way the game has evolved. Teams play to their strengths and the best of luck to them.”
Westmeath got some joy from a similar style of play against Dublin in last year’s Leinster final and Gavin knows his team will hit a maroon wall again when they meet again at Croke Park.
He will demand better execution of chances in front of goal after six first-half wides here, five in the first 10 minutes or so, though creating those chances was something to celebrate in itself. “From a coaching perspective, to see that creation, it’s a good thing,” said Gavin. “It’s easy to destroy, it’s harder to create. So for the guys to be patient and to read the opposition and the way they set up and to be able to probe and to prod and to still create chances against that, in difficult enough conditions, that was positive.
“All told, the guys never looked out of control. They looked in control and we responded to the challenge that Meath put up to us and that’s the satisfying thing in this performance.”
Gavin was able to offer little on the likely challenge presented by Westmeath.
“I haven’t seen Westmeath,” he said. “I didn’t even realise their result until the end of our game.
“I haven’t watched them all season but if a team gets to a provincial final then you can be sure they’re going to present a tough challenge.”
Eoghan O’Gara should be available though he missed this match through injury. He’s just back from a cruciate lay-off though Gavin said it’s nothing serious.
“It’s just a leg strain, nothing long-term at all.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved