Jim Gavin hails Dublin’s ‘big improvement’ as they see Cavan off
Defending league champions finish campaign on a high with six-point win
Tempers flare during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match between Cavan and Dublin at Kingspan Breffni Park. Photograph: Declan Roughan/Inpho
Cavan 1-10 Dublin 1-16
Strange as it sounds, geographically speaking, Cavan – 70 miles down the N3 – represent something of a Division 1 derby for All-Ireland champions Dublin. Not that any extra motivation was drawn on, or required, here as Dublin went about their business with the minimum of fuss to win with a bit to spare.
After a slow-burner of a first half, Dublin led by the minimum. The visitors looked comfortable when they eased into a 0-8 to 0-4 lead in the 29th minute but a trademark fisted goal from Martin Reilly cut the gap to one and Cavan were unlucky not to go in level.
However, once Paul Mannion hit the net nine minutes into the second half, Jim Gavin’s side had the cushion they needed and they were able to play within themselves in the closing stages while keeping Cavan at bay.
While Dublin came into this one off the back of a loss against Tyrone, there was no major post-mortem in midweek, said Gavin.
“What we referenced was just that our skill-set last week was off and the standards that the players set themselves wasn’t what we’d expect from them, no matter who we’re playing against.
“That was the only thing we referenced from the previous game. Thankfully today we had a big improvement on that and hopefully we’ll see more of that going into the championship.”
The manager dismissed a suggestion that Dublin may have been low on motivation travelling to play Cavan – whose relegation was all but confirmed anyway – in what was, then, effectively a dead rubber.
“Maybe from the outside looking in. But for all these players, it’s their last league game of 2019. It’s a very competitive squad.
“In some ways we’ve got a week back now that we can begin championship preparations immediately. And obviously we have club championship kicking off in two weeks’ time.
“We certainly had our eyes firmly on this game to get what we can out of it, as we have every game we’ve played in the league.
“Our approach is always to plan for all seven games. That’s what we prepared for. That’s what we got.”
Dean Rock landed Dublin’s first six points – he finished with a total of nine – as Dublin led by double scores approaching half-time before Reilly’s flicked goal gave the home side hope and the veteran levelled mattered on the resumption.
Dublin, though, always seemed to have another gear in reserve. Veteran Reilly and Kilkenny traded points before the defining score of the contest arrived in the 43rd minute.
A mishit shot from Rock dropped short and Mannion pounced, grabbing possession and coolly rattling the net to make it 1-9 to 1-6.
And from there, the visitors turned the screw. A point from sub Kevin McManamon and two from Rock (one free) put six between them and more or less put the result beyond doubt.
Cavan had some bright moments in the closing stages, Paul Graham and Killian Clarke registering eye-catching points but Dublin’s lead was never really threatened and they eased home, with Colm Basquel adding the final score.
Cavan boss Mickey Graham, meanwhile, drew the positives.
“I can’t fault their effort, it was very hard for them to lift themselves coming into this game because they were disappointed after the last number of games.
“We were looking for a performance but as I said that’s the league done and dusted now, we have to park it, we’ll review it and look to learn from it. But yeah, lots of positives to take from today.”
CAVAN: R Galligan; J McLoughlin, P Faulkner, C Moynagh; G Smith, Conor Brady, C Rehill; D McVeety (0-1, mark), K Clarke (0-1); P Graham, G McKiernan (0-3, one free), C Conroy (0-1); M Reilly (1-3, one mark), J Galligan, C Madden (0-1).
Subs: B Fortune for McLoughlin (46 mins), J Brady for Madden (49), N Murray for Graham (52), S Murray for Conroy (63).
DUBLIN: E Comerford; D Daly, D Byrne, C O’Connor; B Howard, C O’Sullivan, J McCarthy; MD Macauley, D Gavin; P Flynn, D Rock (0-9, five frees, one mark), N Scully; C Kilkenny (0-1, mark), C O’Callaghan, P Mannion (1-3, one mark).
Subs: K McManamon (0-1) for Flynn (43 mins), S Bugler (0-1) for Scully (48), O Kiernan for Smith (50), P McMahon for O’Connor (55), C Basquel (0-1) for Mannion (62), B Brogan for Macauley (65).
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).