'Three games in eight days is a bit much' says busy Gavin
There are mixed feelings about the new format of the O’Byrne Cup, which continues with two further rounds over the next five days, a schedule that Dublin football manager Jim Gavin reckons “is a bit much”.
His players mightn’t necessarily agree, as the round-robin format means Gavin hasn’t had time yet to consider the early morning training sessions favoured by his predecessor, Pat Gilroy. But Dublin are back in action tomorrow evening when they host DCU in Parnell Park, and also host Wicklow in the final Group B match next Sunday afternoon.
“We already have 12-14 guys playing with their colleges,” said Gavin, who got off to a winning start against Carlow on Sunday, “and a couple more players doing exams, needing time off to study. Then we’re without the Ballymun contingent as well.
“So it’s tight enough, but then it’s tight for every manager. Three games in eight days is a bit much, to be honest, but we’ll do our best.”
It’s certainly a fragmented Dublin panel at the moment, and among those they’ll face when playing DCU tomorrow is their own Paul Flynn, who is coming back from injury, and came on a substitute in DCU’s opening round draw with Wicklow. Flynn admitted “is is hard to put it into words” what it will be like to play against Dublin but reckoned it would be a “nice experience”.
Anyway, if Dublin win then they should be safe enough for one of the semi-final places, and likely face either Louth or Meath on Sunday week, with the final then set for January 27th. With that sort of schedule, it’s unlikely Gavin will resume the early morning sessions anytime soon.
“Well I am a fan of them, but only if it suits the players,” he said. “There is a tranche of exams in colleges now in January. between DCU, DIT, and Maynooth, so there are a good few guys doing exams, and sometimes they like to train in the morning to free up their evenings. If that suits collectively that’s what we’ll go for.
“For me it’s very much a player-centred approach and that’s how I manage teams. I set key performance targets for them, but around that it’s about how they manage their own schedules. I try to facilitate them as best I can.”
Gavin’s main injury concern for tomorrow’s game is midfielder Michael Dara Macauley, who wore the captain’s armband against Carlow before retiring early with a quad muscle injury, which shouldn’t prove too serious.
One manager embracing the new format of the O’Byrne Cup is Kildare’s manager Kieran McGeeney; his team beat Carlow IT by six points on Sunday, with DIT up next tomorrow, and he welcomes the heavy schedule.
“We’re not trying to set the world alight in January, we just want to see if we can blood a few players, and keep the training up for a very tough opening against Donegal in the league.
“I think the cup competitions are good, and they’re trying to make sure everyone is getting games, which is what we want. Training is on hold this week, but, ultimately, what every player wants is more games, so it’s good.”