Tuesday 22 October 2019

Charlie Redmond: 'Jim Gavin's five-in-a-row Dublin side are the greatest football team of them all'

Dublin players celebrate following the All-Ireland SFC final replay win over Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Dublin players celebrate following the All-Ireland SFC final replay win over Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Charlie Redmond

Let it be written: This is the greatest football team of them all.

And they will stay that way until some wonderful  side comes along and wins six on the spin.

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Might that be Dublin in 2020? For these lads are not finished, no they are not, not by a long chalk.

You saw that in a frantic second half at Croke Park last night when Dublin simply wanted the win more than a great Kerry team wanted to stop them achieving this special feat.

I wrote last Sunday that Eoin Murchan could have a role to play. I didn't see him quite having that role.

He was sound in his defensive duties. But what about that goal?

Dublin manager Jim Gavin with his father Jimmy following the All-Ireland SFC final replay win over Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Dublin manager Jim Gavin with his father Jimmy following the All-Ireland SFC final replay win over Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

It was Kevin Moran all over again – except this time, sorry Kevin, Eoin stitched it.

From there on, Dublin had their teeth into the bone of this All-Ireland, and they would not let it go.

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The sheer work put into the effort by the likes of Brian Howard, James McCarthy and Ciaran Kilkenny was awesome to watch.

They just took control of the game and would not let Kerry get a foothold in the contest.

The Kingdom did get it back to one point, but crucially they never got level.

And when Con O’Callaghan, McCarthy and Dean Rock (inset) kicked lovely points, Dublin were clear and heading for home.

Dublin’s defence stiffened too in the second half. They had trouble with referee Conor Lane in the first half as he didn’t look favourably on Dublin’s tackling.

But things improved in the second half, again because of the work-rate and the Dubs began to swarm tackle Kerry.

Con O'Callaghan, left, and Eoin Murchan of Dublin celebrate following the All-Ireland SFC final replay at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Con O'Callaghan, left, and Eoin Murchan of Dublin celebrate following the All-Ireland SFC final replay at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Now it was Kerry having to attempt ‘hit and hope’ stabs for points and too many of them went wide.

In fact Kerry kicked 10 wides to Dublin’s four during the match.

And those six misses were exactly the winning margin at the end.

Dublin got just the start they would have wanted, motoring into a 5-1 lead within a few minutes as they seemed to be able to get away from the Kerry backs with ease.

The clear-cut goal chance just wouldn’t come, however, in this great phase of the game for Dublin.

The team kept taking points and putting pressure on Kerry all over the pitch.

No team could sustain that power and pace, mind you, and Kerry came back into the game and began to kick some fine scores of  their own.

For these, they were getting through the heart of the Dublin defence much too easily for my liking.

Without either Cian O’Sullivan or James McCarthy at the centre-back position, there was a huge gap there in the Sky Blue rearguard.

It may have taken Jack McCaffrey’s injury to force Jim Gavin into reshuffling the defence.

But things looked a lot more solid in the second half when McCarthy dropped back at bit more towards No 6.

I suppose there will be talk now about retirements.

If anyone leaves they leave with the gratitude of a city for seven All-Irelands in nine years and the five-in-a-row in the bag.

To my mind, not many will go. Why would you when there is so much more to come from so many of these lads who are only in their mid-20’s.

I mean Murchan and Brian Howard could have played U-21 last year, if the grade hadn’t been abolished. There’s years of football in these guys yet.

And Jim Gavin knows there is more in them too. He has put in some shift.

But why would he leave? He has been able to handle the demands of a young family, of a very responsible job in the DAA and the team for a long time now.

Surely he will give it a year or two more. There’s more history to be made yet with this wonderful bunch of footballers.

Everyone who calls themselves a Dub should be so proud of what they have given us over the last decade.

Online Editors

The Throw-In: 'Jim Gavin has achieved what Mick O'Dwyer and Brian Cody couldn't do'

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