Sunday 22 April 2018

Gavin hails Watson's instant impact as new boy 'takes opportunity with both hands'

Shane Lennon
Shane Lennon
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

AFTER a difficult week that saw two members of his back-room team move on, Jim Gavin had yet more playing options to consider as he watched little-known Daniel Watson perform heroics to drag his Dublin side over the line against Louth in the O'Byrne Cup on Wednesday night.

Gavin hailed the impact of Watson -- a bustling forward from the same St Anne's club as Joe McNally -- who fired 2-1 and had the chance to score a third goal in a remarkable 20-minute cameo to see off a determined Louth challenge.

"We've been looking at Danny for a few years now," Gavin said. "We said we were looking hard at club games and he impressed.

"St Anne's got to the play-offs in Division 2, so he has been very much up in lights for us and we brought him in. We gave him the opportunity and he took it with both hands."

This success provided more evidence of the wealth of options available to Dublin management.

Of the team that took to the field on Wednesday night, only Philly McMahon started last September's All-Ireland final.

But with a host of front-line players absent or college-tied, it remains to be seen how many of the side that Gavin fielded will see championship or even league action later this year.

They managed just a point in the opening 35 minutes in difficult conditions against a disciplined Louth side, but Gavin declared himself pleased with the application of his side.

"It's pre-season. We're back less than two weeks, so there are bound to be some technical errors, but the effort and endeavour was great throughout and I was very impressed with the players' commitment to keep strong to the end.

"Even when Louth looked as though they were going to push on, the guys dug deep again.

"It's a great trait now that they have. They showed great resolve and pushed on to deservedly win. We got 2-5 out of 2-6 from play which, on a very difficult night for football and on a very sticky ground, was good."

Ciaran Kilkenny was on college duty for St Pat's earlier in the day and didn't play on a night when Louth lost Brian White to injury, with the full extent of the damage expected to be confirmed today.

The Wee County are also set to be without Shane Lennon (right), who underwent hip surgery yesterday, and Ray Finnegan until the latter stages of the league.

"Coming off how we performed at the weekend, which was very poorly, we were just looking for a bit of energy and a bit of fire from them and I think we got that," said Louth manager Aidan O'Rourke.

"There wasn't a whole pile of quality in the first half. There was good pace and intensity to it but we spurned 10 scoring chances -- six wide and four into the goalkeeper's hands -- so we were disappointed at half-time. We thought we probably should have been further ahead.

"But we regrouped and started the second half really well, probably controlled the third quarter. We were three up and maybe didn't hammer that home."

Irish Independent

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