Just another day at the office for Gavin and his team
Dublin boss admits he was too caught up in the game to enjoy it
Dublin manager Jim Gavin talks to some of his backroom staff at Croke Park during the All-Ireland football semi-final against Kerry. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
There was a distinctly funereal feel to Jim Gavin’s postmortem after Dublin’s seven-point All- Ireland semi-final win over Kerry, that was completely at odds with the thrilling game of football that had just unfolded before the eyes of the nation at Croke Park.
It was, no doubt, a modern day classic, one that equalled any one of its previous famous instalments for drama and quality, but for Gavin it was just another workday done.
“I wouldn’t look at it that way,” he responded dryly when asked if he could appreciate the calibre of the contest which Dublin won 3-18 to 3-11. “I would look at each play as it develops. That’s the way I look at the game. There were, I don’t know, 80 plays in that game there today and you’re trying to watch each one as it develops and trying to focus on it.
“I don’t lift my head above that bubble. I just try and stay in it and try and stay focused and try and do the best for the players. Because ultimately, they’re doing the best decisions on the field of play but if you can make any tactical substitutions, that’s what my job is and what the management team’s job is.”
Pressed on whether there was even a hint of relief, joy, pride ... anything from the win, he added: “That’s my job as a manager, and Stephen’s job as a player, to win games. So job done, as far as we’re concerned. There is a buoyancy and a great energy and happiness within the squad but it was such a competitive game against such a great side like Kerry.”
His goalkeeper and captain was alongside him, even more non-plussed by the occasion, and looking like he’d rather be anywhere else.
Even when Dublin trailed by two at half-time, Gavin insists there was no panic, even after they had conceded three goals. Not only that, but he “wasn’t surprised” by it.
“I wasn?t surprised that they got those scores. I obviously looked at them in their tapes, against Tipperary, Cork, Cavan; they did exactly the same so it was no surprise that they got them. They have lots of football and some fantastic forwards. At half-time there was a great sense of calm among the players and we focused with energy and enthusiasm to go harder in the second half.
“We look at the game over the full 70 minutes and so whether you are up or down at half-time does not really make a difference, it is when the final whistle is blown that is the time you need to be ahead. The team showed great character, resolve and determination and a willingness never to quit manifested itself. We were asked questions here today and we answered most of them.”
The result was in no small part down to the goal from Kevin McManamon, whose strike late in the 2011 final swung it against the Kingdom as well. He was introduced for Bernard Brogan in the 65th minute and put Dublin three points ahead with a smashing strike past Brendan Kealy after Michael Dara Macauley batted possession his way from a midfield skirmish.