Jim Gavin pleased with Dublin's response
By John Harrington
Dublin manager Jim Gavin was pleased with the way his team reacted to a stiff test from Donegal in Saturday night’s Allianz Football League Division 1 clash at Croke Park.
Dublin looked in control at half-time but then Donegal outscored them by 0-8 to 0-2 between the 36th and 53rd minute to come within a point of the reigning All-Ireland champions.
Not for the first time, Dublin finished stronger than their opponents, and kicked the last four points of the match to seal a hard-fought win.
"I think you've got to be happy the way the guys responded to that Donegal challenge,” said Gavin.
“They impressed me watching the tapes – that opening game against Kerry, they were a man down, a dubious sending-off, I have to say, at the start of the game.
“They were a man down for most of that game; they were seven minutes to go, four points up, and just lost that game, a very unlucky goal went against them.
“Against Galway, I thought they put in a big shift and again tonight, having looked at them, we knew the challenge it was going to be.
“So, it was no surprise to the Dublin football team that Donegal were so close, going into the last quarter of the game.
“They brought it back to a point. But what's pleasing from my perspective is how the players responded to it; the team effort; the collective willingness to work for each other and to keep them scoreless for, I don't know, the last 15 minutes possibly.
“And for us to get those last four scores just showed a great focus in the team, and just a great determination.
"We know that we haven't got as much work done as other teams, but to hang in there when certainly they had us on the ropes, that's what we'll take away, particularly when we're in the second week of February.
“We've a long way to go to our opening championship game in May, but that will do us the world of good."
The nature of Dublin’s win underscored two of this panel’s key strengths.
The performances of Colm Basquel, Brian Howard and Niall Scully were another reminder that the youngest players in the panel are good enough to make a real impact this year.
And once again the impact of the Dublin substitutes was a testament to the panel’s unrivalled strength in depth.
"I thought Colm, Brian Howard and Niall really played for the team, winning the ball and laying it off for the best man in the best position,” said Gavin. “That's what they're good at.”
“Again, it's probably what we saw with their clubs last season and that's the form that they're carrying through.
“And again, the players who came in – Ciaran Reddin, Paddy Small, Eoghan O'Gara, Dean as well, Cian O'Sullivan, they all played their part for the team.
“And that's their collective strength."