Jim Gavin pleased as Dublin show more ruthless side in the second half

‘Our shooting was a bit off in the first half. We created goal chances but didn’t take them’ says Dublin boss

Laois duo Conor Meredith and Paul Begley tackle Dublin’s  Diarmuid Connolly during the Leinster championship clash at Croke Park. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Laois duo Conor Meredith and Paul Begley tackle Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly during the Leinster championship clash at Croke Park. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Nothing new under the sun for Jim Gavin. On their first day out last year, Dublin scored 2-22. This time they scored 2-21. On three of their six days out last year, they were behind at half-time but ahead come the end. Same again here. As he’s fond of telling us, half-time is just a break in play.

“I wouldn’t say we were frustrated at half-time, no. Laois had played well and already had 70 minutes of competitive football against Wicklow.

“I was very impressed with what they displayed against Wicklow. We saw out there in both halves that, if they’re given space, they were going to punish us. And they took some very, very nice scores in the first half.

“You’re just playing against good footballers and good footballers do that if you give them space. So we had a bit of a chat about it at half-time and regrouped. We’re just happy to win in the end.”

When they got their motor running, Dublin were irresistible. They outscored Laois by 2-13 to 0-6 in that second half, took two out of three goal chances and kicked two fewer wides. It made all the difference.

“We were a bit more clinical in our shooting,” said Gavin.

“I think it was a bit off in the first half. We created a good few goal chances and didn’t take them. We took our chances when they came up in the second half and that probably told in the end. Certainly, the goal, I think, made a bit of a difference and gave us a bit of space.

Tough defence

“We work hard on trying to create goal chances, Laois set themselves up very well against us and were difficult to break down. But the most pleasing thing from a coaching perspective is that we continue to take those goal chances against a tough defence. We encourage the players if the shot is on, to take it. .”

Gavin was relaxed about Bernard Brogan’s early departure, blaming it on a cramp in his hamstring rather than anything more serious. He expects him to be back for the Leinster semi-final against Wexford, a game for which Denis Bastick should also be available.

As for Tomás Ó Flatharta, the fact that they didn’t get blown away was only of small consolation. He brought his side to Croke Park to compete and compete they did. But when the goals came for Dublin and the reinforcements were sent on by Gavin, it meant his side was trying to beat back a wave that was taking very little notice of them.

“In the first half I thought we battled very well. It was good. We were ahead at half-time, and for long periods of the second half we were still in the game. Even after Dublin got the first goal I think we pulled it back it again to three points. At that stage we probably needed a goal.

“When Dublin brought on their subs, experienced lads towards the end, I think they scored something like eight or nine points and pulled away from us. I’m saying I’m disappointed, but I’m really pleased with the lads as well and the way that they battled.

“They worked on what we had focused on over the last three weeks in preparing for this. I think they worked very hard for a long period of the game.”

That they did. Laois broke even against Dublin’s kick-outs in that first half, a clear sign of homework done. But Dublin’s goals sapped their spirit and as the game wore on, Dublin were able to gather possession at will.

“We worked on the kick-outs over the last three weeks and sat down and discussed what way we should tackle it. For that to work it needs a buy-in from everybody, which we did get . . .

“I suppose goals make a big difference to a game. Dublin got two goals. Even though he pulled it back after the first one, them getting the second one . . .. I don’t think we had an attempt at a goal. Those goals, they really kill you in games.”

“Two kicks of a ball and it’s six points. It takes a lot of work to get six points against Dublin.”

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