Jim Gavin singles out ‘compact and composed’ defence

JIM Gavin quickly shot down comparisons between this current Dublin group and those from the glittering era of the 1970s.

David Hickey, the team doctor, would argue that this current assembly is a superior outfit to the one he played with under the watch of Kevin Heffernan and Tony Hanahoe.

But Gavin wasn’t biting when it was put to them that after a third title in five years the crop now are now more successful than their predecessors.

“They’re different eras. For their time, certainly they’ve achieved a lot. Even speaking to them there, they’ve enjoyed these moments and those honours are for looking back on when they’ve finished their careers.

“Nothing will ever match Kevin Heffernan’s team and what he did for Dublin GAA. His spark and genius, we just stand on their shoulders, really. Dublin football wouldn’t be what it is today but for those teams, they got the city alive to Gaelic football so I don’t we’ll ever compare to those giants to the game.”

That being said, halfway through this decade several of Gavin’s panel have now scalped Kerry on three occasions not to mention their three All-Ireland crowns.

The manager put this latest success down to how well they protected their own half of the field.

“It was our structure in our defence that won it for us in the end. We were very compact and very composed on the ball against massive threats all around, they came close to poaching one or two goals towards the end.

“We knew we had to maintain our structure throughout the game and I felt we did that and that’s why we got over the line. I’d say our shot-to-score ratio might have been a little bit ahead of theirs and opportunities that came our way we seemed to take. We created a few chances that we didn’t take but we’d always encourage our boys to go for it and great to see the likes of Brian Fenton back himself deep in the second half. He was very unlucky (with an effort that struck the post) but that’s what we’d always encourage.”

Fenton came in for high praise from Gavin and he also paid homage to another excellent display from Philly McMahon.

“Colm Cooper is a fantastic talent and it’s great to see him play. Philly and a very good game and he’s been playing well all season. He really stood up for us this season and he’s been a big leader for the team both on and off the field. He demonstrates most of his work by what he does on the training field and in games but he’s just one part of a good defence this year.

“We would always encourage Philly, he is technically a skilful player and he’s demonstrated that with his score count this year. We would always encourage that if there is space and an opportunity, that’s the ethos we have.

“If they see a gap to go for it, they do and hopefully someone will cover off for them.”

They’ll read like crumbs of comfort but Gavin had some sympathy for Kerry as they had to sit on their hands.

HE FELT Dublin had the advantage only played only 15 days previous.

“Certainly when you’re looking at the championship structure, for a team like Kerry to be waiting four weeks for an All-Ireland final, it’s not good enough.

“There’s a big debate going on about restructuring the championship. We’ve got one of the best field sports in the world. Our supporters want to see the games, our players want to play, so let’s tighten it up and give our club players an opportunity to play as well.”

Gavin revealed there was no issue with Cian O’Sullivan’s fitness despite having to be helped off at the end of the drawn semi-final with Mayo. “He trained all week. We didn’t fitness test him – he trained with the squad. I was confident having spoken with him a couple of days after the replay. He’s a very determined man.”

With another two-year term, Gavin already looking ahead to 2016. “We have a plan laid out for next year, we kick off the National League on January 30. We will refine that over the coming weeks.

“But there are no guarantees. We did our very, very best last year and were competing with the best and were beaten by an excellent Donegal team. That might happen next year. That’s the last thing that I will say to the players on any given day - just go and be the best you can be.

“It’s a simple message to work, but that’s what we did today and thankfully, that was enough.”

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