Jim Gavin almost pleased on almost perfect day
Jim Gavin appears for his post-match interview duties displaying marginally more emotion than if Dublin had just won the O'Byrne Cup and not just retained the All-Ireland for the first time in almost 40 years.
Inscrutable as ever he rhymes off the imperatives of "process" and "good execution" and "value systems". He does admit that he has come from a singing dressing-room - well be the hokey - but the thread running through this routine is similar to before: his role is not for embellishment, certainly not by himself.
Asked if this win, and the feat of successfully defending their title, was uniquely special he maintained that all triumphs were equally appreciated. "We played two games against an incredible Mayo side. I don't think their players got as much credit as they deserved for the first day. It was all down to the intensity that Mayo brought to their defensive system, which they tweaked mid-season. I said going into both finals that there was only a belt of a ball between us and that remains the case."
He complimented, when asked, the Dublin players who came off the bench. "Even Darren Daly, deep into the game, got a match-winning block; that epitomised the spirit and character of this Dublin team; they showed that when Mayo threw everything at us."
The decision to introduce Mick Fitzsimons was, like the influential substitute Cormac Costello, based on what they had seen of those players in training. Of Costello, scorer of three points, he said: "Those three points he got, I could probably give you some tape from training games where he does the same thing; that is the form he is in. We had faith in him, we believed he would have an impact with his pace. He has been an outstanding underage player and had a dip in form but he has come back now again."
Gavin said the players fully realised what they needed to do after the drawn match when most of them under-performed. "Immediately after they knew they had under-performed. I think we got a lot of things right the last day and a lot of things wrong today but you are never going to get perfection. I think we maybe had three wides (they hit four) in the game; that is pretty impressive in an All-Ireland final, particularly with the intensity they (Mayo) brought."
Of the performance of Dean Rock, who bounced back from a poor display in the drawn match to contribute heavily to the Dublin win, Gavin said the transformation did not surprise him. "Dean is a mentally strong player. I have known him since 19 in under 21 squads, it's great to see him develop and on the biggest day in the football calendar to hit his frees like that. Generally I thought he did well - he is resilient, as they all are. They knuckled down (after the drawn match), moved on, they don't tend to dwell on the past."
His Mayo counterpart, Stephen Rochford, was first in, and more expansive. "I am extremely proud of all the Mayo players," he said, "they left every bit of energy out there." Could Mayo have won he was asked. "Ah when you look at a one-point defeat you look at every single play, every single decision, every single moment in it, question what could have been, that's just the way it is."
The big call in dropping their goalkeeper David Clarke was put to him. "We did our analysis on Dublin, they had pushed with a formation in the first game, pushing four guys inside, they were probably trying to cut off our short kick-outs. And as the game developed in the drawn game, they were getting more comfort or more reward. It was probably something they were going to try and maximise further. Robbie's kick-out just gave us a bit more length and a bit more option. That was the reason behind it."
Did the gamble pay off? "In some cases maybe it did but I am not thinking through every kick-out now at this moment in time to wonder about that."
How disappointed were the players? "You know that group have been in four All-Ireland finals and three defeats out of that four, (so) they are very crestfallen, devastated. You don't put the last nine or ten months of your life into an inter-county scene in the way it is at the moment, and take anything out of this year but absolute and utter dejection. But they've been doing that for a number of years and we continue to fall short."
He refused to be drawn on the performance of the referee Maurice Deegan. "I thought in fairness to Maurice he did as good a job as anyone could have." Nor was the black card that led to Lee Keegan's controversial dismissal their downfall, he deliberated. "You get them some days, I don't think the black card is what lost us the game; we had enough possession to go and win it and we just came up a little bit short.
"It forced us to use our subs earlier than we had planned for, also when Donnie Vaughan went off injured; that's sport, that's the way it goes. We lost two of our strong runners in Donal and Lee a lot earlier in the game than what we had planned for."
Sunday Indo Sport