Final drumbeat build-up may grow louder but Jim Gavin’s values still call the tune
Manager’s core philosophies have guided Dublin through his first year in charge
Dublin manager Jim Gavin and the Dublin squad observe the national anthem before the All-Ireland quarter-final against Cork. ‘There’s a great esprit de corps. A great bond. And a great belief’, says Gavin of his squad. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Dublin manager Jim Gavin congratulates his captain, Stephen Cluxton, after the Leinster SFC final victory over Meath at Croke Park on July 14th. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
The drumbeat build-up to an All-Ireland final can be one of two things. It can be a riot of percussion, with cymbals crashing and bass thumping or it can be a steady four-four. Mostly, you’ll fall somewhere in between but with Jim Gavin on the riser, Dublin were never going to stray too far out of time.
It has been one of the defining characteristics of his first year on charge that his message has never changed.
Ask him almost anything and he is able to bring it back around to the same themes. Or core philosophies, as he’d put it himself.
Memories of 1995
At the Dublin press night a couple of weeks ago, we tried to get into what his memories were of the one All-Ireland final he played in, back in 1995. Without flinching, he turned it into a speech about what his younger players can expect this weekend.
“I was 24. Within Dublin there is an expectation for you to win, that’s a given. But the biggest thing is that they go out there and express themselves, to play with freedom.
“That’s the way the current Dublin management believe that football should be played.”
Even when he did go back and take the question a second time, his answer was brief and pretty perfunctory.
“It was quite a war of attrition, really. It didn’t go by in a flash. We got a player sent off early and that put us to the pin of our collar. But we showed great heart. That was mentally a very strong team that year. There was a desire to win it. It was enjoyable.”
Rhythm and rhyme
This is the rhythm and rhyme of Gavin’s Dublin. All forward motion, no looking back. If the past matters, it’s only in respect of the traditions he feels his players should uphold. But in everything there is an appreciation for the future – and the immediate future at that – mattering above all else.
“There’s an expectation there in Dublin right from the underage to the senior level. Every time a Dublin team takes to the field, they’re expected to win. I’ve grown up with that expectation and I’m used to it.
“There’s an expectation for every Dublin manager to win a game and that’s the philosophy that we’ve taken. We’ve gone from game to game. We’ve never looked beyond any game we play.
“Our sights were firmly fixed on Kerry and in the dressingroom afterwards we set our sights on Mayo. Whether that brings us success, we don’t know, but that’s the approach we take.”
The final will be their 16th game of the year in league and championship. Of the 15 that have gone before, Dublin have won 13, drawn one and suffered a single defeat – by a point to Tyrone in the league.