As a man with little interest in previous results under his reign, the merest suggestion that Dublin hold a psychological edge over Kerry doesn’t wash with Jim Gavin.
The first of Dublin’s consecutive three championship triumphs over the Kingdom may have been administered by Pat Gilroy but not only has Gavin overseen the other two but ensured Éamonn Fitzmaurice as manager has yet to engineer a win over Dublin in Croke Park.
In the build-up to their latest meeting back in January, Kerry players were asked if Dublin had become their bogey team.
After a second Croke Park defeat to them in four months, the same question looms more prominently over them.
Dublin’s now aim for a fourth straight Division 1 title and hope to stretch their unbeaten run across league and championship to 22 games.
Gavin, though, isn’t interested in past deeds. “On any given day, not only in Dublin-Kerry, the top teams in Division 1 and 2 as well have the capability to beat each other. If you look at the quarter-finals in the championship games, there really is only a bounce of the ball between the teams and any of the recent games with Kerry have been very close. This Dublin team don’t get too carried away. What’s in the past is in the past and we don’t try and trade off that we just try and be the best in the present.”
Gavin gives no consideration to how motivated Kerry will be to claim their first win over Dublin in Croke Park since 2009.
“How the opposition approach the game and what emotional attachment Kerry will have to six months ago — and if they are seeking revenge for the All-Ireland final — is something we never look at. It is outside of our control. All I can manage is how the Dublin team prepare and the boys have prepared diligently over the last week. It’s a game in isolation and we must try and be the best we can be on Sunday.”
Looking back, he doesn’t place store in Dublin’s six-point win at the end of January: “The first game they were two weeks back (in training) and we were maybe a week ahead of them. We went back in January and both teams had very little momentum going into the game so I wouldn’t look too much into it. It was early in the season and both teams have now built momentum and I think it is going to be competitive.”
Last week, former star Barney Rock claimed this current Dublin group were on their way to becoming the county’s greatest generation, eclipsing Kevin Heffernan’s teams from the 1970s.
Gavin isn’t so sure.
“In terms of what they achieved at that particular time, with the games the way they were in the county of Dublin in the early 70s, it was on its knees. What they achieved is a testament to the vision of the manager and the vision of the players and their determination. That’s a unique group. You’re not comparing like with like. We’re just trying to build on their legacy if I’m honest about it.”
On the matter of Dublin’s wealth of resources being used to explain their success, Gavin said: “It’s an easy topic and issue to use against the achievements of the clubs in Dublin. I reference the clubs because they’re the people who have developed these players.”
Gavin confirmed the senior panel don’t intend setting up their training home at the GAA’s National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown. “We move around a bit between pitches and gyms. Dublin don’t have their own home as such for training facilities. It’s been good to us, so we’ll keep it that way. It (Abbotstown) wasn’t built for us, as in the Dublin GAA, and I know already that some senior inter-county football teams have used it for challenge games and I think that’s a great initiative.
“The officers of the Dublin GAA have quite clearly stated and we’ve seen their ambition to build their own home.
“They don’t consider that their training home for the development of players. They’re still looking for sites and hopefully that plan will come to fruition in the short-term rather than the longer term.
“We’re a little bit behind other counties in that regard with the challenges the minors, the U21s, and ourselves have for getting pitches during winter season. So we don’t actually have a home yet and certainly that isn’t our home nor won’t be our home.”
Gavin added Dublin have a clean bill of health for this weekend.
Michael Darragh Macauley has returned to training having recovered from the injury which forced him off in Ballyboden St Endas’ All-Ireland SFC club final win last month.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved