Monday 26 September 2016

Gavin hails Dubs' discipline while Ryan seeks solace in stats

Published 29/06/2015 | 02:30

Kildare manager Jason Ryan took some comfort from his side's statistical record during the match
Kildare manager Jason Ryan took some comfort from his side's statistical record during the match

The war was well and truly lost before Kildare attempted to commence a battle.

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Three times in the second-half, the hapless title contenders tried to disturb the champions' mental strength after previous efforts to cope with their physical prowess and respond to their greater skillset had failed miserably.

Three times, skirmishes instigated needlessly by Kildare players, resulted in yellow cards for the resultant pair of pullers and draggers.

Diarmuid Connolly was involved in one of them.

It has been a few summers since his on-field discipline fell off the cliff, but even so, Darragh Ó Sé somehow convinced himself - and possibly others - that a ticking time bomb could be embedded within the mind of the country's most outrageously gifted footballer.

Ultimately, the only grievous concern for Connolly was when Bernard Brogan almost decapitated the St Vincent's man with his blistering first-half goal.

It's probably not what Ó Sé had in mind.

"I learned a long time ago when Kerry talk about other counties, I take it with a pinch of salt," responded Jim Gavin in deadpan manner when Ó Sé's mischief was lobbed in his direction.

Did he take it as a compliment? "I take it with a pinch of salt." Move along, folks.

"In those exchanges, our guys held their ground which you would expect them to do. That was satisfying. Discipline is one of our core philosophies and everything is based around that."

Indeed, given the contest was effectively extinguished by the 10th minute, Dublin's main challenge was to avoid self-immolation.

Their defensive rigour was impressive even if it wasn't sufficiently tested, although Kildare manager Jason Ryan enlivened us with some intriguing stats afterwards.

They seemed to paint a different picture to the massacre his side's supporters had just witnessed.

"We had 20 attacks in their 45 in the second-half and they had 20," he said. "And in the first-half, we had more attacks in their 45 than they did in ours."

Neat figures but they convey nothing about Kildare's woefully inadequate shooting and Dublin's facility to raise green flags almost at will. Ryan insisted that his team did try to park the bus, retaining as many players behind their own 45 as possible.

But if most of them are spending their time rubber-necking at Dublin's dazzling movement or dashing runners from the back, then it would make little difference if they had a score of bodies in defence.

There were 20 minutes gone when Padraig Fogarty tip-toed across halfway to join 13 of his team-mates; his side were already 2-6 to 0-2 points down; defensive resilience seemed to be purely a cosmetic sop to the tactics board.

There were many other times when you got the sense that Kildare men didn't really know how to go about defying Dublin.

They never looked convinced that any of the innumerable gambits they might concoct in private would ever work.

This public execution confirmed the fact.

It will take wiser counsel than Ryan and his lieutenants to divine whether Kildare can ever again compete with Dublin the way they did at the turn of the millennium.

Perhaps the result of the minor game where what presumably are the best squad of 18-year-olds in the metropolis were soundly defeated by their white-clad opponents, can offer some succour.

This morning, however, the future appears as distant as another galaxy.

Dublin, within Leinster at least, retain an otherworldly presence themselves. But, cognisant of challenges beyond their provincial borders, they have had to adapt.

With three minutes left, it may have seemed natural, based on previous events, that the defending team had 12 men deep within their own half to contain the opposition, with a lone pair of attackers cast adrift from the play.

The interesting aspect was that the defending team was Dublin, now 4-16 to 0-12 up but diligently adhering to the more rigid defensive model that will be required in August and beyond.

It was not coincidence that, as Kildare attacked, Dublin turned the ball over, sparking a devastatingly speedy transition into attack where the attackers - the two Brogans - were joined by Paddy Andrews.

A goal was the outcome.

Jim Gavin's response was as familiarly routine as the performance that preceded it.

"I thought it was an all-round good performance," he said.

"There was very good industry, great work-rate throughout the team, we held our discipline throughout. I thought defensively we were solid with good structure and to get 4-14 from play, I think it was pleasing. Overall, a good day at the office but we prepared very diligently for it over the past four weeks and we knew we had to turn up today to get a performance."

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