Donegal will pull a rabbit from the hat - Jim Gavin
Dubs boss expects Gallagher to unveil new tactical gambit
Other than the news that James McCarthy is ready to play, Jim Gavin was short on particulars at his press briefing yesterday morning.
Gavin's press conferences rarely amount to anything other than a polite engagement with the media and yesterday morning was no different. Ask about specifics and Gavin will respond in the broadest terms possible. It was normal service in that regard.
So there was no indication from the Dublin manager that this week is different to any of the others he's faced this season. That could be interpreted as confidence that his side will get the job done in front of a packed Croke Park on Saturday night as they face Division 1 opposition in championship for the first time this year.
However, it's more likely that his most insightful thoughts on what Donegal will bring to Dublin 3 on Saturday night will be reserved for team meetings.
There were a handful of questions regarding the 2014 ambush when Dublin left the back door open and got their pocket picked by Donegal. That performance was arguably Donegal's high-water mark and it remains the only time Gavin has tasted defeat in championship as Dublin boss.
And to the watching GAA world, it seems to have informed a slightly more cautious approach.
But Gavin insisted yesterday that that game was digested in the same way as the rest.
"Whether it's at U-21 level or senior level, every game that we play, we go through the same process post-game in terms of reviewing, trying to learn lessons in the game and trying to improve ourselves.
"That makes you more resilient, makes you stronger, so each of those games that we've played, whether you win or otherwise, the process remains the same. That was one game in a series of games that we've played. We do learn from each game that we play."
The notion that Dublin might be seeking to right the result of 2014 doesn't sit well with Gavin. However, he does admit that Donegal will bring something to the table on Saturday evening that we haven't yet seen from them.
"That wouldn't be the culture (of seeking revenge), that kind of negative energy, we would be very much espousing the positives and going after our game-plan.
"What is in the past is in the past, we have never anchored ourselves in the past and that includes the games that we have won.
"We have never looked back. We have learnt the lessons and boxed them away, try to put them into practice, move on to the next game. That's the process we have always gone through. So certainly we have never looked back and if we did, we would be looking at a completely different Donegal team to the one that is going to be playing. Yeah the system, there are some commonalities but Rory (Gallagher) is a very innovative coach and we expect something innovative from him on Saturday."
Back in 2010, Gavin was one of the first to experience Donegal's defensive outlook that informs their set-up now when he faced their U-21 side trained by Jim McGuinness in the All-Ireland final.
"We obviously did our research going into the game. In terms of was it a shock? No. But to experience it, you can't buy experience in games, in the battlefield. From a management team perspective, you can give them all the tactical elements or the strategy but from a player perspective, those are the guys who are on the ground who need to implement it and make those decisions in real time. It was a great learning opportunity for them."
Dublin won that day but only after Donegal and Michael Murphy missed a late penalty that would have given them the lead. Gavin has largely known success since then. And he doesn't intend on losing on Saturday night.
"Most of our games this year, actually all of our games were on TV, so we were consistently looking at it. So we have to have tweaks in our game-plan on a consistent basis. If you don't, we know that teams will evolve beyond us and we will remain static. We've got to keep going."