Dublin are far from finished - Gavin
By Cian Murphy
Jim Gavin has posted a warning to all of Dublin’s titles rivals in 2020 that the five in a row champions are far from finished.
In what turned out to be one of his last major interviews before the surprise statement announcing the end of his historically successful reign in charge of the Boys in Blue, Gavin insisted that the standards that were set to enable them to win the Sam Maguire five in a row would sustain the squad into the future.
Speaking exclusively to the GAA Croke Park annual, Gavin said: “What’s the legacy of this team? It’s not finished yet - so I can’t answer that.”
This quest to constantly improve is what Gavin believes makes Dublin the ferocious competitors that they are – unbeaten in Championship since 2014.
“There’s lots of elements of performances this season that were executed to a really high level and there are some that wouldn’t have been to the standards that the players will want for themselves so they will no doubt look at that and try and improve on it.
“Where can they go from here? All they can do is continue to strive to be the best person and player that they can be representing themselves, their families, their clubs and ultimately Dublin football.
“At the heart of it all what impressed me is they have made that choice that when they step into the Dublin squad it is representative football - so it is a privilege to be asked in and you are invited in. As we all know there are no contracts, you are invited in based on your merits and once you are there your responsibility is to be the best version of yourself and try to play your best for Dublin.
“The humility they have to understand that there is a continuum, is what impresses me, that there is never a performance that they will walk away from and say yeah that’s the job done - it is not fixed, there is always growth.”
It is no surprise then that a high point for him in 2019 was in the last 20 minutes of the drawn All-Ireland final with Kerry. It was then, with no margin for error, having battled with the loss of Jonny Cooper to a red card and as they grappled with a Kingdom side gorging off the oxygen from Killian Spillane’s great goal, that the Dubs turned what should have been their greatest weakness into their greatest strength.
“I was really impressed with the guys and their character in the drawn game. I think their true character shone in that game - particularly down the stretch when the game to some might have been going away from us, but the guys played each moment in isolation,” he stated.
“To have a really solid defensive game in the last quarter and create so many opportunities in the last quarter, even though our shot/score ratio wouldn’t be to their standards, you could see that enthusiasm, collective energy, collective drive and character. That’s why they are selected.
“Defensively tackling in pressure moments was so key to it and not allow cheap frees against us, and tactically they had the game awareness of where they were in the game despite a really noisy crowd, and Kerry probably just needed one score to push themselves ahead.
“For the guys to keep their discipline while a man down for a full half I thought it was probably one of the best performances that we have seen from them.”
The full interview is available in The GAA Croke Park Annual - out now in bookshops.