Sport Gaelic Football

Thursday 18 January 2018

'We were playing the ref as well as Mayo' - Jim Gavin

Jim Gavin says he couldn't understand the free-count against Dublin
Jim Gavin says he couldn't understand the free-count against Dublin
Stephen Cluxton lifts the Sam Maguire trophy
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Dublin manager Jim Gavin basked in the glory of a 2-12 to 1-14 victory but still insisted his team had to play a 16th man to claim a second All-Ireland title in three years.

Gavin  said he failed to understand how his team could have a free count of 32-12 against them and insisted that it had been a common trend all season.

He defended the cynicism of some of his players as they resorted to dragging down opponents to kill Mayo momentum, particularly in the last 10 minutes, and insisted it was born out of frustration with referee Joe McQuillan.

"Twelve frees? That's just beyond me. I can't understand that. I really can't. That's one of the very disappointing things. Not only were we playing Mayo but we were playing the referee as well," he claimed.

He refused to accept that his players had just fouled more to establish such an adverse free count and was adamant that any acts of cynicism like Kevin McManamon's 'tackle' on Lee Keegan in the 68th minute as they led by 2-12 to 1-12 were because they were "frustrated."

"We are getting very few frees, particularly from the forward division," he said.

"It's a fight that we have in every game, that opposition players are getting more frees than we are and we work very hard on the art of defending and the technical tackle. An awful lot of work on that. It's disappointing. That's an enormous number of frees to give away in any game," said Gavin.

"They (the players) were frustrated. That free-count is just not acceptable. Anybody here can ask me are Dublin a cynical team and we're not. We play the game with certain values in the squad and we play the game the way we believe it should be played and to have that number (of frees)...

"At the end, that was just Dublin players getting frustrated. For the whole game, there is a double count going against us. All the time. And it's not only today. We probably kept our counsel for most of the games but that has been the trend in all the games."


Mayo players were also unhappy with McQuillan for blowing full time after Stephen Cluxton's final kick-out with manager James Horan and captain Andy Moran claiming the Cavan official had told them there were 30 seconds still left to play. Cillian O'Connor went for a point as a consequence of that apparent information relayed to him, to reduce the deficit to the minimum.

It was their second successive All-Ireland final defeat and inevitably there will be speculation about James Horan's future as manager.

Mayo led by 0-8 to 1-4 at the interval but their goalkeeper Rob Hennelly was forced to make three top-class saves to deny Dublin more goals.

Bernard Brogan was Dublin's scoring hero, bagging 2-3 (2-2 from play) in a war of attrition that left two of their players (Rory O'Carroll and Jonny Cooper) concussed and more limping out of a dressing room that resembled a war zone.

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