Gavin: We don't have discipline problem
AHEAD of what will be just the latest instalment in a stormy relationship with Kildare, the thorny issue of discipline is on the discussion table for Dublin manager Jim Gavin.
Ger Brennan became the third Dublin player to see red this year and, as he did after the dismissals of Denis Bastick and Michael Darragh Macauley, Gavin has offered no excuses and described the incident as "unacceptable".
Brennan picked up a one-match ban from the Central Competitions Controls Committee (CCCC) for a kick at Mickey Conroy, but escaped censure for a high elbow into the inrushing Donal Vaughan.
However, he will miss tomorrow's showdown with the Lilywhites, where both sides put their 100pc league record on the line.
"It's not acceptable," said Gavin, who also revealed that Brennan had apologised to the squad. "I spoke to Ger afterwards when we reviewed it. Ger accepts the penalty that he received from the CCCC. I think it's fair. He kicked the ball, but the player was on the ground. There is no need for it.
"In terms of his high forearm, he just stood his ground. He was charged by a player – what else was he to do?"
And Gavin denied that indiscipline was an issue for the Dubs after three sendings off in four outings, including the O'Byrne Cup final.
"Look, Mayo had three yellow cards in the game and we had none.
So, it's not indiscipline in the squad, from talking to them and observing them closely, it's not an issue.
"I'm not going to make excuses about any of them, it's completely unacceptable, but I don't see it as an issue."
Another, more enviable record is Dublin's unbeaten run in the top flight so far this year, something they share with both Tyrone and Kildare, but Kieran McGeeney's side have arguably taken the most notable scalps.
They have beaten the All-Ireland champions of 2009, 2010 and 2012 in the league so far this season and are looking to complete the set with the 2011 champions.
The Lilies already beat Dublin in the O'Byrne Cup final after extra-time this year and Gavin sees a renewed vigour in Kildare from the side that couldn't manage even a kick of defiance as Cork swallowed them whole in last year's All-Ireland quarter-final.
"We expect a bigger challenge from a team that has gone so well and shown a very rich vein of form from the New Year. We expect a big challenge from Kildare.
"They have certainly regrouped (from that Cork defeat) and Jason Ryan's inclusion to the back-room team has paid dividends.
"Their U-21 players are playing extremely well – (Niall) Kelly and (Daniel) Flynn – and they look more structured at the back, attacking from very deep with great pace from defence. Seanie Johnston is obviously in a rich vein of form, and (Tomas) O'Connor, I saw a lot of him with DIT, he played well, and he is really adding to the scoreboard. They seem a more balanced team this year."
If Kildare are more balanced, then Dublin's scoring has been heavily weighted in the direction of Bernard Brogan. The Oliver Plunketts man's haul of 1-10 last weekend underscored a return this year to the sort of form that saw him win the Footballer of the Year award in 2010.
And Cian O'Sullivan, who has been posted in the unusual position of midfield of late, insists Brogan has plenty of help.
"Bernard is playing fantastic football at the moment. Any ball he's getting his hands on, he seems to be doing good with it. He's either setting up a score or turning and kicking it over himself.
"I think a lot of the good work is being done by the lads in the backs and the middle getting good ball into the forwards and Bernard seems to be the man finding himself in the good positions at the right times these days. Paddy Andrews is having a fantastic start to the league as well.
"Diarmuid (Connolly) was as well before he was injured. The majority of the boys are doing pretty well.
"There is massive competition for places there and the lads are trying to impress."