Gavin says hectic schedule asking too much of some players
"To have some guys playing three games in eight days is just beyond me."
Dublin manager Jim Gavin has questioned the timing and actual validity of the three-week break in the Allianz Football League – and why some of his players are still being asked to play three games in eight days which, he said, is “just beyond me”.
Gavin’s concern is that despite the league break, meantime there is a full round of club league fixtures in Dublin, the climax of the Sigerson Cup and Fitzgibbon Cup, the semi-finals of the Interprovincial football series, and the start of the Leinster under-21 football championship – all of which will involve members of his panel.
“Players need a break,” said Gavin. “They’ve all got club games coming up next week, and want to go back playing with their club. . . you would prefer if the league didn’t start until after the Sigerson.
“Because most of the lads also go back to their colleges this week for the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup as well. So most of them have big games in the next week. To have some guys there playing three games in eight days is just beyond me.”
The quarter-finals of the Sigerson Cup are set for tomorrow and Thursday, and the involvement of DCU, UCD, DIT and NUI Maynooth will ensure a large Dublin representation: the semi-finals of the interprovincial football series are set for Sunday, when Leinster play Connacht in Pearse Park in Longford, and again several members of Gavin’s panel will be called up.
Then there’s the start of the Leinster under-21 football championship, this day week, February 19th, when Dessie Farrell’s Dublin team take on Carlow in Parnell Park.
Ciarán Kilkenny, who is now free of club commitments after Castleknock’s run in the All-Ireland junior championship ended on Saturday, will be concentrating on that grade before taking up any role with Gavin’s senior panel.
Gavin also used under-21s Philly Ryan and Jack McCaffrey in Sunday’s easy win over Kerry in Killarney, the only two negative components to that victory being the ankle injury sustained by forward Diarmuid Connolly, and the straight red card shown to midfielder Michael Darragh Macauley, which rules him out of Dublin’s next game on March 2nd, under lights at Croke Park, against Mayo.
For now, however, Dublin are sitting top of Division One – along with Kildare and Tyrone, but with their noses in front on points difference.
Part of Gavin’s satisfaction with Sunday’s win over Kerry was the adaptation of players like Cian O’Sullivan, excellent around midfield, and Tomás Brady, the former hurler and defender who started at corner forward.
“Cian has played at midfield in the past with different Dublin teams so nothing new in that respect. . . it seemed to work out well for him, a good shift. Tomás has played there with his club in the forwards too, won a league medal this year . . I thought he did very well. He’s a very adaptable player.
Gavin also praised the form of Dublin sub and goalscorer Craig Dias. “He has been playing consistently well with UCD . . it’s good to see him transform his form from the college into the county.”
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice has confirmed that following his club Finuge’s defeat in the All-Ireland intermediate final, his playing days are now behind him and he will be concentrating his full attention on reviving the county’s football fortunes.
“I’ve had a crazy six weeks but I knew it was just a matter of getting through, but things will settle now and it’ll be just the Kerry job, which is enough on its own anyway.”