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Greatness awaits

WHEN Jim Gavin speaks, he tends to talk in non-specific concepts such as "team ethic" and "core values," all of which tend to sound like manager-jargon, but there's an emerging truth behind it all.

Dublin have obliterated every team they have played this summer.

A mini-series of annihilation.

But try, for a second, to nominate a Footballer of the Year among them.

Jonny Cooper? Paul Flynn? James McCarthy?

On Saturday night, they beat Monaghan - a team based stoutly around the principles of limitation and constriction - senseless.

Buried them up to their necks by 17 points.

Yet a corner-back; Philly McMahon, was the Sky Sports Man of the Match.

They are averaging 28 points per game whilst conceding a mean of just over 13.

Thus their average winning margin is 15 points.

They are, simply, a phenomenon. And, it seems, they're getting better.

"Look, we can't pick and choose our games," shrugged McMahon, almost apologetically afterwards.

"We come out and play our game and whatever score it is, the score it is. We've still things to improve on.

"We wouldn't be satisfied with that result even though everybody will look at it and say, 'Jesus, they won by a lot of points.' We've a lot of things to work on and that's what we'll do over the next three weeks."

On 50 minutes last Saturday, Diarmuid Connolly and then Cormac Costello skewed goal chances just wide of the same Hill 16 end post whilst Dublin led by 12 points.

A little later, Connolly looked almost lackadaisical in a similarly inviting position after being put in by Alan Brogan, although Rory's Beggan's save was a good one.


Some day, it's safe to conclude, they're going to take all these chances and beat a team by 40 points.

"Maybe just lack of focus, that's what I would call it," reflected Jim Gavin. "We need to be more clinical. That's an area that we will certainly go after again."

All of which, it must pointed out, was aided and abetted by a Dublin defence which is easily the most improved area of their awesome team.

No concessions were made to Monaghan. Dublin pushed up on their sweepers and thus, the goals came from the application of incessant pressure;

But meanwhile, Rory O'Carroll had something of an epic game, mano-a-mano with Conor McManus.

Mick Fitzsimons - who until the Leinster final, looked like the forgotten man of Dublin's 2011 All-Ireland - destroyed Chrissy McGuinness.

And McMahon was given Man-of-the-Match.

Still, for all their excellence and elegance, Dublin aren't spared from innuendo either.

It seems de rigour, when discussing their merits, to signpost their awesome physicality and fitness before mentioning their quality of football.

As though Dublin have more hours in the day to hone all that athleticism. And impressive and all though their athletic propensity undoubtedly is, it's the brilliance and speed of their execution of football's fundamentals that make them so effective.


By way of illustration, Michael Darragh Macauley performed two successful chip lifts in the first half on Saturday night, a sure scope that rate of improvement in the skills of gaelic football is Gavin's greatest achievement.

"If Dublin didn't bring a performance to Croke Park, we wouldn't have got the result. Any dip in form, Monaghan would have hurt us," said Gavin, sounding almost Cody-esque.

"Externally, what people say about the team, be it a positive light or a negative light, that's outside the player's control," he added, scotching the feint possibility that his team might start believing their own reviews.

"That's not a distraction. From what I've witnessed, their mental resolve, their mental strength in applying themselves to whatever task is at hand, is strong."

Greatness awaits.