Thursday 18 July 2019

Alan Brogan: Jim Gavin's men don't slaughter teams anymore, but know exactly what they are doing

Dublin manager Jim Gavin. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin manager Jim Gavin. Photo: Sportsfile

Alan Brogan

When the winners of today's second semi-final sit down to study the method and the madness of Dublin's victory over Galway, they will find few crumbs of comfort to sustain them in their bid to halt the champions' bid for a fourth successive title.

Unusually there was a touch of madness, or at least carelessness, in the early concession of a goal that bolstered Galway's challenge. There was no need for Stephen Cluxton to come for that ball. He had two defenders there to contest it and would have been better off staying on his line. Maybe he saw something the rest of us didn't.

But the overall impression was the method behind Dublin's victory. We're used to Jim Gavin's men starting slowly before powering ahead after the break and controlling the game in the closing stages once they have secured a winning margin. And yesterday followed this familiar pattern.

Dublin aren't slaughtering teams now the way they were three or four years ago. They know exactly what they are doing, particularly against a heavily defence-minded unit. They just keep the scoreboard ticking over, work the ball across and back and wait for the holes to appear. In Ciaran Kilkenny they have the perfect general to execute this battle plan.

When Galway won a penalty I think many Dublin supporters would have liked to see the Tribesmen rattle the back of the net and score a second goal. I share that view. We haven't seen Dublin under severe pressure this summer and, if nothing else, it would be interesting to see how they react when forced to chase the game.

Many analysts will point to Dublin's supposed susceptibility under the high ball, but I don't think this is a major weakness and certainly not a game-breaking one. I accept that they failed to deal properly with the ball that lead to Galway's first goal, but you have to factor in Cluxton's error and how well Damien Comer did to make the chance count.

That sort of ball might trouble Dublin a couple of times in a match, but it's not going to be a deciding factor in an All-Ireland final.

Cormac Costello performed his party trick to perfection again yesterday, coming on to make a significant scoring contribution, but I can't see Gavin changing his line-up to accommodate him in the final. As Kevin McManamon exemplifies, once you develop the knack of coming in and making a difference, that is most likely what you'll be asked to keep doing .

GAA Newsletter

Expert GAA analysis straight to your inbox.

On a side note, once again we had the unedifying spectacle of both managers making late changes to their published teams and I think this is something the GAA should move on as it is unfair to supporters.

There are two fairly obvious solutions. The first is to count any late change as a substitution, which I think would be a bit harsh, and the other is to give in totally and allow managers to name a match-day squad of 25 players from which they pick their starting 15. It might even add to the occasion for supporters to hear the teams announced, for the first time publicly, 30 minutes before throw-in.

Sunday Indo Sport

The Throw-In: Kerry back to their best, Connolly’s return and Cork’s baffling inconsistency

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport