WHEN Jim Gavin first learned and then digested the news that Ciarán Kilkenny's injury was just about as serious as could be feared, his thoughts surely turned swiftly to Alan Brogan.
There's not many managers that could absorb the loss of one of the country's best young footballers by introducing a former Footballer of the Year in his stead the very next week. But that's the luxury Gavin afforded himself in Celtic Park yesterday.
Admittedly, there were times when, physically, he lagged and later took shelter in Dublin's full-forward line, but Brogan's class is enduring and you couldn't but get the sense that given time and a clear spell of full health, he can orchestrate the Dubs attack once more this summer.
"Good to see Alan back," Gavin admitted.
"We had a few cry-offs during the week and this morning. But it's an opportunity for the guys and it was a great opportunity for Alan and he took it with both hands."
Of Kilkenny, Gavin said: "Yeah, it's very frustrating for Ciarán. He was playing great football for club, county and college. He was on top of the ground. He's a strong man and he's in very good spirits. He's doing his prehabilitation at the moment and he's looking forward to getting the operation over and cracking on."
It was tempting to wonder how deep Brogan's influence might have been were those around him more familiar. Kevin McManamon was pulled from the team before throw-in, as was James McCarthy.
"Kevin rolled an ankle last week in the previous League game," Gavin explained.
"We thought he'd make it, but we had a run-out yesterday morning and he didn't feel comfortable. So it's not the game to be risking him.
"James McCarthy as well, had a stomach bug over night. So when he showed up this morning, he wasn't feeling the best. That's why we took the precaution to rest him today."
Chances are, Philly McMahon will miss the visit of Mayo in two weeks time after he was sent off for an off-the-ball incident and Gavin didn't seem inclined to argue the toss afterwards.
"If he was sent-off ... if you raise your hands, as I just said to the players, you can expect to be sent off," he insisted.
With Mayo to come and then a trip to Omagh, it's likely now that one more win will put Dublin into the semi-finals, but Gavin stressed: "We have seven games and we take each game on its merits and if we get any extra games after that it is just a bonus."