“There’s great mental reserve there”

DUBLIN Senior Football team manager Jim Gavin praised the mental strength of his players in preserving the prospect of a historic five straight All-Ireland Championship titles after they battled out a 1-16 to 1-16 draw with Kerry in Sunday’s final.

Losing the services of Jonny Cooper to a red card on 34 minutes, the Blues appeared to by coping well in the second half, extending their lead to five points before Killian Spillane’s goal put the Kingdom on the front foot.

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Dublin manager Jim Gavin sees Jonny Cooper off the pitch after he was issued a red card by referee David Gough during the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final against Kerry on Sunday

Indeed, from there, they edged into a one-point lead heading into injury time and an All-Ireland upset appeared to be on the cards.

Yet Dublin and Clondalkin man Gavin maintained their composure even in the face of a couple of late missed opportunities before Dean Rock restored parity on 74 minutes.

The Ballymun Kickhams man was presented with another opportunity to clinch the win four minutes later albeit from a very difficult free kick which he struck wide.

“We played well in patches in the first half and went five points up” recalled Gavin. “The guys done well, mentally they’re very strong, there’s great mental reserve there. We’ve a resilient football team.

“A point down with 72 minutes on the clock, the perception might have been that the game was going away from them, but all credit to the Dublin players, they kept their discipline and created opportunities for themselves.

“They could have taken one or two more, but they didn’t and that’s the disappointing thing. But we have to reflect on it as best we can and go again in the next game” said the Clondalkin man.

Asked about the big calls that were made on the day by match official David Gough, Gavin said “David Gough is one of the top officials of the game.

“Some days the calls go for you, some days the calls go against you, but overall our performance wasn’t good enough, but we have an opportunity to try and rectify that.

“We’ve just got to dust ourselves off and go again. We just try to perform to the best of our ability.

“It wasn’t good enough today and there’s no excuses for that so we just have to try and learn from that and come back the next day, and perform to our best when we represent Dublin. That’s the way we’ve always looked at it” he added.

While it might well be argued that Dublin would have put Sunday’s final to bed had they finished the game with their full complement, Kerry must be credited for working their way back from four points down at half time and seriously threatening the Dubs’ grip on ‘Sam’.

Certainly Gavin was not surprised by the tenacity of their opponents on the day despite their firm underdog status heading into the tie.

“They [Kerry] have been so impressive” he stressed. “In the National League we met them in Tralee and got a good look at them up close.

“The National League didn’t go our way and they’ve been very impressive in the Munster Championship.

“A lot of questions were asked of them in the game against Donegal and they answered them. That side is full of quality. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough” he insisted.

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