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Gavin scorns idea Blues benefit having HQ as 'home'

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Dublin manager Jim Gavin. Picture: Daire Brennan / SPORTSFILE

Dublin manager Jim Gavin. Picture: Daire Brennan / SPORTSFILE

Dessie Dolan. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Dessie Dolan. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

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Dublin manager Jim Gavin. Picture: Daire Brennan / SPORTSFILE

ON Monday Dessie Dolan said this: "Saturday night is Dublin's eighth game at Croke Park out of 10 this year.

"They know the pitch, they know the supporters, they know everything about it. They played well there all year. They have the supporters at their backs. Realistically everything is in their favour."

And on Tuesday, Dennis Glennon said this: "They know that pitch like we do Cusack Park and that is a huge advantage. As well as that, kicking into the Hill can be daunting – especially for younger players. It's nerve-wracking. They've played six or seven games there already. We've only played the Division 2 final there. If we got them outside of Croke Park, we'd beat them."

 

DANGER

Which isn't to suggest that the comments of Westmeath's twin danger men were orchestrated in any way. It's just the reason Jim Gavin was asked at length about the subject yesterday.

"I think we just need to look at the list of All-Ireland title winners over the last 20 years and we'll see what advantage that has been to Dublin," he shrugged. "That's the context I'd view it in."

The line of Gavin's reason is easy to follow.

Dublin's average League attendance for the past three years is far higher than the capacity of Parnell Park allows, so for purposes of accommodating everyone who wants to see the boys in blue during the spring, the arrangement is mutually beneficial.

"I think Croke Park is open for everyone to rent and Dublin are no different in that respect," he insists. "So I think if people have issues with Dublin playing their National League games in Croke Park, they should speak to the GAA and Croke Park about that."

After that, he insists, the matter is out of Dublin's hands. "In terms of the Leinster championship, we'll go anywhere we have to go. That's a matter for the Leinster Council.

"Wherever the Leinster Council ask us to play our games we'll be happy to facilitate that. I don't have a choice in where we play our games."

The other burning Dublin issue this year is their penchant for attack from all and every position on the field.

On the one hand, the style is refreshing and endearing. Against that, it should, technically anyway, lead to the concession of a greater number of scores – certainly a high portion of goal chances – than the sweeper-filled zonal defence employed and utilised by Pat Gilroy's team.

 

DENYING

"We have never considered a zone defence as part of the current set-up," stated Gavin. "We play the way we're comfortable playing. They have defensive responsibilities, there's no denying that, and they understand that.

"The game-plan isn't going to change. There are always areas for improvement. We were looking for that consistency of performance in the League and we still haven't got there. The guys are trying their very best to do that and tomorrow it will be no different."

It has been noted, with no little subsequent proof, that the teams populating Division 1 of the League are operating at a far loftier level than those in the second tier from which Westmeath have emerged but Gavin insisted: "The team we're playing are now to me a Division 1 team."

He added: "Westmeath came through a very tough division.

"I think Division 2 has a different dynamic in that each team is trying to get promotion."

"From a player, being a coach, manager, I've become accustomed to that pressure that's within Dublin," he added of the expectation brought about his team being favourites, not just for tomorrow, but also the All-Ireland.

"You just get on with it. The results over the last few years, as I said, senior titles, don't reflect the expectation.

"Players do, particularly in Dublin, get accustomed to that expectation and to getting inside the bubble and working away and prepare themselves for the game accordingly."


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