Jim Gavin ‘disappointed’ with Dublin’s performance
Manager praises side’s resilience but admits their standards were not good enough
Dublin manager shakes Jonny Cooper’s hand after he was shown a red card in the All-Ireland football final at Croke Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
They say destiny is knowing something about yourself that no one else does. Jim Gavin didn’t seem to know whether it was faith or fate which meant this particular All-Ireland title is now destined to be decided on the third weekend of September.
What is certain is Dublin simply weren’t good enough to win it on the first Sunday of the month. After 36 games, a third championship draw since their drive-for-five began in 2015 means they’ll return to Croke Park in 13 days: for Gavin that time must transfer as improvement if faith and fate are to align.
Some managers will tell you their overriding emotion after any draw is usually relief: for Gavin it was disappointment, the Dublin manager neither concealing nor excusing it.
“Just disappointed with our performance, that’s the overriding thought,” said Gavin, before expressing some satisfaction in the faith shown by his players.
“The resilience the Dublin players showed to be on the ropes as such and to still to keep moving and keep creating scoring chances, keep turning the ball over, that’s obviously the impressive piece.
“But overall in the expanse of the game, just not good enough from the standards the players set for themselves, not what I set for them. I know when they reflect they’ll have a lot to say and all we’ve done today by getting a draw is give ourselves an opportunity to come out again here in 13 days and hopefully get a better performance and if we can do that hopefully we’ll be there or thereabouts at the end of the game. This performance wasn’t good enough to get the result, we have the opportunity now to rectify that.”
There were obvious turning points: Gavin’s reaction to the red card shown to Jonny Cooper just before half-time was relatively calm, only not without some disagreement: “We didn’t get the rub of the green in that regard [calls] but that happens in games, some days you get those calls and some days you don’t. That’s the way it is. We dust ourselves down and prepare as best we can for another game.”
Was it a harsh call? “It’s hard to know. Both players [Cooper and David Clifford] were grappling. In the second half we could have gotten one or two calls which could have gone our way, they didn’t, so you just dust yourself down and go again.
“I thought he was doing okay [Cooper]. David Clifford is a fantastic player. There seemed to be [pressure] from the outside, but David Gough is one of the top officials in the game.”
That rub, Gavin suggested, also went against them when Kerry’s Tom O’Sullivan didn’t see a second yellow card in the second half for foul on John Small: “Some days the calls go for you, in that instance [O’Sullivan] it went against us but overall you wouldn’t be looking at that as an excuse, it’s just the performance from ourselves wasn’t good enough.
“We played well in patches of the first half. We went five points up and they got a point relating from that sending off, pushed ahead and we went five up in the second. The guys, we know them well and they are mentally very strong, great mental reserve there – a resilient football team. A point down with 72 minutes on the clock, the perception might have been that the game has gone away from them. All credit to the Dublin players, they tackled and kept their discipline and turned Kerry over, and created opportunities for themselves – could have taken one or two more. We didn’t and that’s the disappointing thing, so we’ll have to reflect as best we can and move on to the next game.”
Gavin put no faith on the fact this Dublin team have been through an All-Ireland final replay before, beating Mayo at the second attempt in 2016: the only tangible value will be an improved performance.
“I thought the players on the pitch were doing phenomenally well against a super side like Kerry. They are going to put you under pressure, our guys did really well defensively in that regard. Four points down against Tyrone and, no more than against ourselves, they came back fighting. That side is full of quality. Like ourselves, age doesn’t mean anything: if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Their players did really well today.”
No way did the weight of history, or indeed destiny, weigh down on Dublin.
“From our perspective, every day that we go out, no more so than today, it’s about trying to perform to the best of your ability. It wasn’t good enough today, simple as that. Can have no excuses for it, so we just need to go away and try and learn from it and come back the next day and perform to our best representing Dublin. That’s the way we’ve always looked at it. It’ll make no difference in 13 days.”
Destiny still beckons.