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'we're fully focussed'

IT may have happened last November, but the slow-emerging news this week that Jim Gavin has extended his tenure as Dublin manager for a further two season changes things somewhat.

Or at least, it feels like it does anyway.

Not that Dublin are in some embryonic stage of a long-term cycle, building towards their ultimate goal, but there is no longer any palpable pressure on Gavin to bookend what has been a remarkably successful stint with an All-Ireland title this September.

"There is pressure on Dublin players. There is pressure on coaches and managers," explained Gavin of life in the goldfish bowl.

"That's the nature of the dynamic that we have within the county, being the media base it is.

"But I've gone up. I've played within that bubble. I've obviously coached and managed. So I'm quite comfortable with it.


"My remit is simply to get the players to be the best they can be. That's solely my job. And if trophies come along the way, that's an added bonus. That's the philosophy we take."

Outwardly, that may well be the line Gavin takes and perhaps, that's the message he delivers to his players.

But as Gavin knows, his time in charge will be judged solely on how many All-Irelands he wins.

He's one-from-two so far and you wonder whether he would have sought any augmentation to his arrangement with the Dublin County Board had last year worked out the way his meticulous plans had suggested.

If, now - instead of facing the beginning of a summer of regaining, rather than retaining, Sam Maguire - Dublin were going for a three-in-a-row.

What is certain though, is that Gavin has never been one to pay lip service to the early, relatively harmless stages of the Championship.

Even if his team aren't in pristine physical condition just yet and are unlikely to unfurl the systematic and tactical change-ups instilled on the training ground, individually they're still fighting to retain their jerseys and as such, Longford will suffer their motivation tomorrow.

"The players know my approach to it and every game is the same methodology to it," says Gavin.

Recent interviews in which Dublin players have referred to Sunday as 'game one of six' would indicate that every game will be treated with equal scrutiny.


"We focus on ourselves and on the performance and that process. In both camps, Longford and Dublin, they are acutely aware that it is a championship game and anything can happen in championship games," said Gavin, whilst also acutely aware that no-one believes anything other than an easy Dublin win will transpire tomorrow. "Longford are very ambitious," he added, though that particular trait is relative.

"They have had two very good managers in Glenn Ryan and now Jack Sheedy's has taken over."

Gavin, a former teammate, reckons Sheedy was always bound for managment.

"Jack has brought his excellent record at club level to senior inter-county.

"They have obviously had the objective of getting out of their division and they have achieved that.

"Their next objective was obviously to win their next championship game and they have achieved that.

"We saw that ambition being demonstrated when Offaly really put it up to them and after 45-46 minutes it looked to some people like the game was gone from Longford, but they dug deep and showed resolve and great levels of skill too get back in the game.

"Had the game gone on any longer they would have won it by more.

"Certainly," Gavin concluded, paying the customary dues of an opposition manager, "they are a big threat.

"We're as focused as we can be in trying to get a performance."

Either way, they'll win.

ODDS: Dublin 1/50, Draw 25/1, Longford 16/1


sfc: dublin v longford, croke park tomorrow 4.0 (Live rté2)