Jim Gavin gives serious thought to serious business as Dublin brush Mayo aside

James Horan upbeat over his team’s prospects despite the defeat

Jim Gavin is a serious man. Stephen Cluxton is a serious man. Together, they are serious squared. They come to speak to us after these games with the bearing of men who have had to interrupt a phonecall with Kim Jong-Un to attend. They are brisk. They are short. They have better things to be at.

Thoughts, Jim?

“Yeah, it’s a satisfying result. To come out here and play a quality side like Mayo in a hotly contested game is great for us and I think our guys did enough in the end to win.”

Slow start?


"Yeah, Mayo just came at us. They're an extremely good team. They've been the standard bearers over the past two years, getting to a league final and an All-Ireland final. But they've got players to come back – the two Morans, Higgins and Cunniffe so I expect to see them involved come the back end of the championship."

Happy enough
And so on and so not especially forthcoming. Conceding 16 points means they have some work to do defensively but they got 18 scores so they're happy enough.

Paul Mannion has brought his good form from the club championships into the Dublin team and is moving well. The dressing room as already moved on to the next game – not the league final in a fortnight but next weekend’s challenge match against Galway at Gavin’s club Round Towers.

Like we said, these are serious men.

It would be silly to suggest that James Horan is any less serious but he did have considerably more lightness to his being yesterday, despite the result. Indeed, you’d nearly go so far as to say he was in decidedly chipper form. Then again, he doesn’t have the weight of a challenge match next weekend to carry.

“I think the first 20 minutes of the game was very lax,” he said. “It picked up quite significantly after that, but there was a lot of sparring and bits and pieces going on during that game. It was a good game for us.

“We were down eight guys of some of our main players and we gave chances to four or five new guys. I found out quite a bit about them so from that point of view I am sort of delighted to have the opportunity that we had today.

“Of course you want to be playing in Croker. Sometimes when you get beaten it’s easy to say you’re going in the wrong direction but we’re happy to be here and playing and we learned a huge amount today.

“An absolutely huge amount about some of our players. There’s club games kicking in now, there’s guys coming back. We’ll do some quite heavy training over the next few weeks – as you could see there we’re a little bit behind in terms of fitness but we won’t be found wanting come the summer.”

He didn’t quite shrug everything off but he certainly gave the impression of a man who isn’t heartbroken that the league is behind them now.

Dublin could well have won anyway regardless of how fit Mayo are or how many players they were missing – Horan puts the number at eight, by the by. The simple fact is that those who did play made some careless errors both in defence and attack.

“Some of our fundamentals today let us down when it came to it. The defending for the two goals was terrible and some of our shots at goal were terrible when we were through one-on-one.

“We had four handpasses intercepted in good positions and we dropped three or four into the goalies hands. So that basic stuff has to get better. ”

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times