Friday 15 December 2017

Gavin: Dublin still stand on shoulders of 1970s giants

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

Donnchadh Boyle

For Dublin GAA people it is an all too simple equation and one that grates. The suggestion that having more money, clubs and players to pick from equals the sole reason for their recent success doesn't sit well.

So it was no surprise when Gavin (pictured) dismissed the suggestion that in the €12m Abbotstown facility, Dublin have been given another advantage over their rivals, many of whom have invested hugely in similar centres in their own county.

Gavin's press conferences are usually an exercise in diplomacy but he was unequivocal on Abbotstown: his Dublin team won't be using it as a base because, quite simply, he sees it as not theirs to use.

It once again opened up the debate on resources and how they should be distributed. The location of the facility wasn't Dublin's choice and Gavin sees the issue as an all too handy stick to beat Dublin GAA with, particularly at a time when they are enjoying plenty of success.

"It's an easy topic and issue to use against the achievements of the clubs in Dublin," he said.


"I reference the clubs because they're the people who have developed these players. I'm fortunate enough to be asked to do some coaching with the U-8s at my local club.

"When I see every weekend on a Saturday morning, the volunteerism in clubs in Dublin - and I know it's the same in every county - there's a special atmosphere when you're coaching underage teams."

The argument will rage on but as has been their wont under Gavin, Dublin will go on about the business of winning all the can while they can. Beat Kerry in Sunday's Division 1 final and Dublin will have secured a fourth consecutive League title to go with three All-Irelands in five years.

That would push them further up the conversation in terms of where they sit with the great teams and will add more credence to Dave Hickey's assertion in the wake of the 2011 All-Ireland win that this team would surpass his side of the 1970s.

Retaining the All-Ireland, which they'll look to do this year, is the last remaining milestone the men of the '70s achieved that the current side haven't managed.

Gavin, however, isn't keen on the comparisons.

"They were a unique group of . . . they weren't just a unique team but a unique manager, they'll never be matched. That would be my opinion it.

"A record is a record, but in terms of what they achieved at that particular time, with the games the way they were in the county of Dublin in the early '70s, it was on its knees, and what they achieved is a testament to the vision of the manager and the vision of the players and the determination of them.

"That's a unique group. You're not comparing like with like. We're just trying to build on their legacy."

As was the case then, Kerry are their main opponents. Dublin beat them in the first round in Croke Park at the end of January but Gavin believes both teams have changed significantly since then.

"The first game they were two weeks back and we were maybe a week ahead of them," said Gavin, who confirmed that former Footballer of the Year Michael Darragh Macauley is available once more after recovering from an injury picked up in Ballyboden's All-Ireland club final win.

"We went back in January and both teams had very little momentum going into the game and I wouldn't look too much into it. It was early in the season and both teams have built some traction going into the game and I think it is going to be competitive."

And despite his side having the Indian sign over the Kingdom of late, including beating them in last year's All-Ireland final, Gavin's side are focused on Sunday alone.

"We've never traded off the past," he stressed. "It's always about the game that we have (next). Maybe a look over the horizon to see what's coming but that's about it."

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