Jim Gavin says players want to move on from Armagh controversy

Dublin manager says Davey Byrne’s injuries not as serious as originally reported

Dublin football manager Jim Gavin has said that the players want to move on from the incident last week's challenge match with Armagh, won by Dublin 3-19 to 1-16, in which county panellist Davey Byrne had his nose broken in an altercation with an opponent before the match started.

According to Gavin, he spoke to Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney, who expressed himself “disappointed” with the incident.

“Yeah, I’ve spoken to Kieran McGeeney and, like myself, he regretted it happened and was disappointed. For Kieran, discipline would be part of his philosophy as it is ours. We both regret that it happened.”

The GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee has already indicated that, having reviewed the referee's report, no further action will be taken.

Media reports earlier in the week indicated that Byrne had sustained serious injuries, including a broken eye socket, but Gavin said that these were incorrect although the player would not be available for this weekend's Leinster final.

“No, no, no. He just had – he received an injury to his nose but he won’t be available this weekend.”

He later clarified that the injury was a broken nose.

Gavin appeared to rule out pursuing the matter any further and was asked whether he was was disappointed Croke Park wouldn’t be taking any further action.

“We spoke to both players and both players have had a chat in recent days together.


“The game was officially sanctioned by Croke Park as we do with all our challenge games. As I say, both players have spoken to each other. They regret that it happened but they want to move on now and concentrate on their careers.”

Aside from all that he said that it had been a good match.

“Once the ball was thrown in, it was a very spirited game. They learned a lot from it and so did we – really good pace to the game. Some fine scores from both teams. They’ll certainly do well in the championship, I think.”

Speaking about the Leinster football final against Westmeath, which Dublin are expected to win easily, Gavin dismissed reports that Bernard Brogan, scorer of 2-3 in the semi-final against Kildare, was an injury concern because of a strapped finger.

“Yeah, that happened four weeks ago in a training game, two weeks before the Leinster semi-final, so that’s an old story. He’s good to go.”

There was further good news in the return to fitness of centre fielder Denis Bastick, while half back Nicky Devereux is back in action with his club Ballinteer St Johns, although he won't be ready for the weekend.

He was asked about reports that Westmeath had set up ultra defensively in a recent challenge match against Mayo: did he think it was possible for teams to adopt a defensive system that quickly if they hadn’t been playing like that.

“Yeah, I think it is. I think the challenge for all coaches – the biggest challenge we find is in the offensive side, the creative side of the game. I think defensively, when you’re putting up those systems, they’re a bit easier to manage.

“It’s the offensive work that we go after a lot. That’s where most of our focus goes.”

The Dublin manager agreed that it wouldn’t be characteristic for Sunday’s opponents given the attacking display they gave in overhauling a 10-point deficit against Meath in the semi-finals.

Admired the skill-set

“It’s not. I have been very impressed with how they have gone about their business. We would have admired the skill-set of

John Heslin

from my time with the Dublin [under] 21s. We’d know about the work that is being done in Westmeath and we’d have a good understanding of the players that are coming through.

"Ray Connellan would be one of the guys I didn't know but I was very impressed with him at both wing forward and midfield. The way they played their running game; and I thought they were quite accomplished in defence when they re-organised themselves at half time.

"They counter-attacked very potently, with Kieran Martin pushing up with Heslin and Denis Glennon coming on. No matter what way they set up, we understand we have a big challenge."

He disagreed, given that all of the other provinces are more competitive, that his team were losing out on valuable championship experience – Dublin’s average winning margin in Leinster this year is 23 points.

“When we look at how they approach the games and how they prepare themselves, none of these results they’ve had or the performances they’ve given leave them satisfied. They still want more from themselves. That’s an internal driver.

“In the national league we were put to the pin of our collar in some games and they found a way.”

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times