Jim Gavin relishing tussle with ‘physical’ Kerry after thumping Mayo

The game panned out along expected lines with Dublin racking up another routine victory, and Jim Gavin stuck to a familiar script afterwards when he spoke to reporters.

He described the win over Mayo as “a good night’s work” and said that he expected next weekend’s clash with Kerry will “be another cracking game” between the counties.

“I saw the game of them playing against Mayo, in our preparation for the Mayo game. They were very physical up here in Mayo, and obviously a host of new stars breaking into that team.

“It looks like it’s going to be another cracking game between Kerry and Dublin next weekend.”

Gavin also tried to explain why Dublin added just 1-1 to their tally in the second half, despite enjoying so much possession.

“I think our first-half performance gave us that platform, 1-9 on the board at half-time. And they came out in the second half and played very much a containment game, very defensively, and we probably mirrored that off the ball, and held them scoreless I think from play…

“In some ways we just had to run the clock down, which we did.”

Across the corridor, Stephen Rochford was also playing with a straight bat as he reflected on Mayo’s third defeat in a row.

“It’s disappointing,” he began.

“We had prepared totally this week around going about winning that game. Just after half-time we created a really good goal chance and didn’t take it.

“Maybe that would have asked Dublin a few questions if we had.

“We aren’t at our best in the early rounds of the league,” he added when asked about Mayo’s poor home record.

“Over the last three or four years we’ve had a longer winter period due to our summer exploits so we’re going to be that bit slower out of the blocks than some teams.”

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Full match report:

MAYO 0-12 - DUBLIN 2-10: It won’t go down as the most memorable match that these two heavy-hitters have played in recent years, but there was still enough evidence to suggest this remains the most compelling rivalry in Gaelic football.

They can certainly draw a crowd: 15,313 patrons paid in on a freezing Saturday night in Castlebar to see how last year’s All-Ireland finalists are shaping up.

As expected, Dublin left with the league points, after an impressive first-half performance pushed them out of reach of a makeshift Mayo. The latter were unable to fill all the gaps left by the absence of so many front-liners.

Lee Keegan did make a surprise appearance — resuming his role as Ciaran Kilkenny’s shadow from the throw-in — and Seamie O’Shea also came off the bench, during the second half.

But Mayo badly missed the experience and dynamism of Keith Higgins, Donie Vaughan, Paddy Durcan and Tom Parsons, while Cillian O’Connor’s absence was highlighted by a handful of bad wides from scoreable frees.

And, against a team of Dublin’s class and capabilities, those missed chances were always likely to prove costly.

Paul Mannion’s brilliant goal, after less than two minutes, gave Dublin an advantage they never surrendered, and, despite only scoring 1-1 in the entire second-half, the All-Ireland champions ran out relatively comfortable winners.

Apart from a late red card, for Michael Fitzsimons, this was, as Jim Gavin remarked afterwards, “a good night’s work”.

Mayo will feel they could, and should, have been much closer at the final whistle, but Adam Gallagher’s missed goal chance, early in the second-half, allied to a string of butchered frees from Jason Doherty and Andy Moran, all added up.

Instead, it was Niall Scully’s fisted goal, in the 46th minute, that gave Dublin the breathing space they needed, on an evening when their attack didn’t hit as many high notes as usual.

By beating Mayo goalkeeper, Rob Hennelly, to the punch, after Dean Rock had tossed the ball into the goalmouth, Scully propelled the Dubs into a seven-point lead.

His goal also dented the fragile confidence of a Mayo team struggling for form and consistency.

Luckily for them, Dublin elected to fall back, rather than kick on.

Remarkably, the winners only added one further score before the end — a free from man of the match, Dean Rock, in the 50th minute — but Mayo were simply unable to cut the gap.

The game evolved into a fully-fledged arm-wrestle, at one stage, during a largely uneventful second-half, with just one score arriving in a 23-minute spell.

Unsurprisingly, Mayo had elected to lock down their defence, after conceding that second goal, and tried to hit Dublin on the counter-attack.

In response, the visitors decided to mirror that approach and so a stalemate developed, as one side waited for the other to blink.

More often than not, nobody did.

Dublin’s defensive system clicked into gear efficiently in the last half-hour, as they battened down the hatches and kept Mayo at arm’s length.

The arrival of Cian O’Sullivan to call the shots made life even more difficult for a Mayo side who were struggling to make any impression on the scoreboard.

With Aidan O’Shea bottled up, and Andy Moran kept on a very tight leash by Michael Fitzsimons, all Mayo could muster were three pointed frees in injury-time, from substitute, Conor Loftus.

Dublin did their best work in the opening half, with Mannion’s early goal, after he used his pace to lose his marker, Eoin O’Donoghue, allowing them to dictate the pace and tempo.

With Dean Rock also picking off five points, three from frees, the visitors deservedly led at the break by 1-9 to 0-7, with Ciaran Kilkenny (2), Brian Fenton, and Mannion also hitting the target.

The pick of Mayo’s efforts came from the marauding Lee Keegan, Kevin McLoughlin (2), and Andy Moran.

But those sort of scores were much harder to come by later in the evening, and Stephen Cluxton didn’t have a single save to make on the night of his 100th league appearance.

Scorers for Dublin:

D Rock (0-6, 4 frees); P Mannion (1-1); N Scully (1-0); C Kilkenny (0-2); B Fenton (0-1).

Scorers for Mayo:

J Doherty, C Loftus (0-3 frees); K McLoughlin (0-2); S Coen, A Moran, L Keegan, R Hennelly (45) (0-1 each).


S Cluxton; D Daly, M Fitzsimons, D Byrne; J McCarthy, J Cooper, J Small; B Fenton, MD Macauley; B Howard, C Kilkenny, N Scully; P Mannion, D Rock, K McManamon.


D Connolly for MacAuley (54); C O’Sullivan for Small (54); C Basquel for Mannion (54); C Reddin for Howard (61); P Small for Cooper (64); E Ó Conghaile for Fenton (69).


R Hennelly; C Crowe, G Cafferkey, E O’Donoghue; C Boyle, M Hall, D Drake; S Coen, A O’Shea; K McLoughlin, L Keegan, D O’Connor; J Doherty, A Moran, A Gallagher.


S O’Shea for Gallagher (54); F Boland for O’Connor (61); C Loftus (0-3, 3fs) for McLoughlin (61); S Akram for Drake (66); D Kirby for Doherty (70).


P Neilan (Roscommon)

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