Gavin and Harte in no mood to give anything away at Healy Park
‘We have great trust and great faith in the squad’ says Dublin boss after Omagh win
Jim Gavin in Omagh: “You saw what it meant to play for Dublin. A lot of fatigued, tired bodies inside there. They gave it everything. That’s all you ask.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Down in the tunnel, it’s duelling declarations of “no-really”. No, really, it mattered. No, really, it was a chance for a lot of guys to show what they can do. No, really, a lot of players put their hands up out there today. Hum-de-dum. Hum-de-dum.
First up, Jim Gavin.
“I can’t speak for the opposition but from our perspective, we have great trust and great faith in the squad,” said the Dublin manager. “We see what they do each week representing the county and I’m just delighted for those players, both young and old who performed there for Dublin.
“You saw what it meant to play for Dublin. A lot of fatigued, tired bodies inside there. They gave it everything. That’s all you ask. We have such a difficult task each week not just picking the first 15, but the panel of 26. Today is a reflection of how difficult that is. But also how much of a privilege it is and such a tough challenge to pick a team next week but [it’s] one we’re looking forward to.”
Jim was in Proto-Jim mode. Clipped, brief, polite and completely uninterested in saying anything newsworthy. We gave it a go anyway and asked him about Mayo. He said he hadn’t seen their game against Donegal. We took another swing and asked for his assessment of their season so far. He took it as an opportunity to, er . . . praise the Healy Park groundsman? No, really, he did.
“All my focus this week was on the challenge coming up to Healy Park. Once again we got a fantastic reception from the Tyrone County Board. The pitch is up there if not better than what Croke Park is at the moment. Fantastic work obviously done by the local groundsman in Healy Park and the Omagh club. So, that’s where our focus was”
Down the corridor, Mickey Harte was a little more expansive. He did, for example, at least acknowledge by the end a working level of familiarity with their semi-final opponents Kerry. Before that though, he was happy to put forth the same level no-really about the game itself as Gavin had five minutes beforehand.
“There was no dead rubber in that game,” Harte said. “We didn’t take it that way. It was a question of who would be top of the group and who would be second.
“Obviously we have been on the road for five weeks and most of our players have played most of that game time so it was an opportunity to give them a rest and to give the players who had been looking for more game time during that run – ‘Here’s your chance, against the top team in the country’.
“And we know Dublin didn’t put out their first team either. But at the same time you are playing against a high standard when you are playing against anyone who puts on a Dublin jersey. I think our players got valuable experience there today of what it’s like to play against any Dublin team and I think they came through it with a lot of credit.
“If you are on the road five weeks in a row, in must-win games, that is challenging physically and mentally on your players. I think they came through that with flying colours and it was a welcome break that we did et in terms of the two-week thing.
“We had players working just as hard as the other players and not getting seen by the general public. And what a day for them to be seen, in front of 15,000 people at our home ground. Dublin bring an atmosphere second to none and that was a real championship atmosphere. I don’t think anybody watching that game could go home and say that they were disappointed in what they saw.
“I think they saw a competitive game, I don’t think anybody was trying to lose that game. It’s a privilege to get the jersey any day and to get the jersey in August in a championship game – regardless of whether the immediate outcome might be – it’s still very important because they can now say they played against Dublin in an August championship match in front of 15,000. They can say ‘I was part of that.’”
Onwards then, to meet Kerry next Sunday. Tyrone haven’t beaten them – or either of the teams in the other semi-final, for that matter – since 2008. Harte is in no doubt about the size of the task ahead.
“Kerry are still the top team in the country as far as the Sam Maguire is concerned. They always have their eye on that and people always expect them to be big contenders for that and they seldom let people down. It is a big battle and we have to bring our best game and if we bring our best game we believe we can make it a very competitive game and then who knows who might win.”