Jim Gavin unhappy with finish - and refereeing

Many a manager has delivered the staple line about how a performance of the type just delivered would not do the next day.

Jim Gavin was at it yesterday, but this time you believed him.

For some time now we have become accustomed to Dublin pulling away from sides in the last quarter, turning close-run games or single-digit leads into double-digit blow-outs thanks to the grinding nature of their excellence and a bench bejeweled by stars.

Not yesterday.

Gavin’s side were 13 points up with eight minutes of normal time to play, but only won by eight after a cartoon crazy closing period in which Fermanagh’s refusal to roll over earned them the wrath of Hill 16 and the respect of everybody.

Entertaining as it was, though, it couldn’t mask what came before, which was another routine stroll in Croke Park for the perennial Leinster champions, who still look well poised to seal a spot in next month’s All-Ireland final.

As it is, they face into a semi-final against either Mayo or Donegal without having been put to the pin of their collar by any of their four opponents thus far. An unfortunate state of affairs: For the championship and for them.

Will they be undercooked?

“Our preparation has been excellent,” said Gavin. “The way the competition is drawn we just have had to take each team on their own merits and give them the respect that they deserve. We did that with Fermanagh with the way we prepared for this game.

“We understand that, no matter what team we will face in the semi-finals, that performance in the last quarter of the game will not be good enough, but we can take away a lot of positives. Our shooting was excellent.”

That it was, for the most part, though Alan Brogan was surprisingly complicit in increasing their final tally of wides to 10.

The veteran’s input was symbolic of the rather tame contribution from Dublin’s replacements as a whole, in fact.

Possibly as annoying for Dublin was a free count that stood 21 to four against them and Gavin —never a man to court controversy or criticise friend or foe if he can help it — admitted he felt his side had struggled to catch a break in that regard.

“Once the game is on, I can’t control the referee, it’s his interpretation,” he said.

“I’m sure he did his best. Whatever frustrations were in the crowd, I thought our players held their composure and tried to be the best they could be.”

And as for Fermanagh’s first goal? “I didn’t realise you could tackle the goalkeeper in Gaelic football. That’s the interpretation that was made today and you can’t change it in that moment of the game. You just got to roll with it and get on with it.

“Players, manager and supporters only ask for consistency. I’m sure the referee did his best today but all you’re asking for is consistency. And if you get that, most people will be happy.”


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