Jim Gavin confirms Diarmuid Connolly is not in Dublin’s plans but door remains open
The worst-kept secret in Gaelic football was confirmed yesterday as Dublin football boss Jim Gavin admitted that Diarmuid Connolly is out of their championship plans.
Gavin, speaking at yesterday's Leinster GAA Football Championship launch in Trim, revealed that he has ongoing contact with Connolly who continues to sit out club and county activity on an extended break from the game and reminded those speculating about reasons for the player's absence that there was a "duty of care" to be shown to an amateur player.
"The situation is that Diarmuid just hasn't been available to play football and hurling with his club, and with the county as well," the manager said.
"We respect that position, and hopefully everyone does as well. It is an amateur sport, but that said, the door will always be open for Diarmuid, and I know for sure with the club and also the county. Hopefully, we'll see him back playing Gaelic games soon.
"I just hope we've a duty of care within the Association, for anyone who volunteers their time. It is an amateur sport, be it managers we have here today, that you respect them, and from a player perspective as well, and I hope people understand that."
Preparing his team for the challenges of winning an eighth successive Leinster and fourth successive All-Ireland this summer, Gavin insisted his charges do not have a 'win-at-all-costs' attitude to playing the game.
Gavin was pressed on how the philosophy espoused by him as manager and aspired to by his players reconciled with incidents at the end of last year's All-Ireland final when Mayo players were dragged to the ground as their goalkeeper David Clarke prepared to take the final kick-out, just after one of Clarke's kicking tees had been picked up and thrown away by substitute Cormac Costello who was subsequently shown a yellow card as he sought to stall the game.
"You're trying to play the game as best you can in the right way. Sometimes mistakes are made in games. We make mistakes as a management team," he said. "Mistakes are made in life. But you just get on with it. You try and learn from it and get on with it. That's all I can say on that."
He said the term 'win at all costs' is never mentioned in the Dublin dressing-room and would never be tolerated, despite the levels they went to to slow down the restart after Dean Rock's winning point.
"If you're winning at all costs then you're going to be cheating. We certainly wouldn't tolerate that. But the rules are there in the game. If a player doesn't abide by the rules, he'll probably be asked to leave the pitch, by either red, yellow or black cards. They are the rules so you abide by the rules as best you can."
Gavin didn't care to dwell on Lee Keegan's attempt to put Dean Rock off that late free by removing his GPS and throwing it at the Dublin free-taker as he stepped in to the winning kick.
"That's in the past. The players have spoken about it. Dean said it didn't affect him. As I said, mistakes are made in the heat of the moment, at a flashpoint. Everybody has moved on from that."
Connolly apart, Gavin has welcomed Paul Flynn back to training after back surgery while Jack McCaffrey and Cian O'Sullivan are both making progress from cruciate and shoulder (dislocation) injuries respectively.
Gavin also reflected on the benefits of his players being released back to their clubs for the month of April.
"From our perspective, it worked out really well. I thought it was a brave initiative by Páraic (Duffy) to introduce it. And we need more of that strong leadership from Croke Park in terms of fixtures. Sometimes with the provincial system, they're not synced with the championship. But from my perspective, it worked well. The players really enjoyed going back to the clubs for four weeks. A lot of the players played on four successive weekends.
"They enjoyed going back playing with their friends and their communities where they grew up playing football and sport on the streets of Dublin and the pitches of Dublin."
Gavin has stockpiled success as a manager at a quicker rate than anyone else in the game but he insisted that medals and titles are never his motivation.
"We don't count success, genuinely, by medals. My drive is just to get a group of players who want to represent Dublin - they need to make that choice because there are a lot of sacrifices to be made, a lot of commitment, a lot of family events to be missed by committing to your sport.
"My mandate and remit is to get those guys to be the very best. During our time with the U-21s, we set out the exact same way.
"If you can imbue that culture to the guys, if they play to their very best, if you win along the way, it's great. If you lose, once you know they have given everything, that's all we've ever asked them.
"That's what gives me the most satisfaction, walking off the pitch and reflecting on the game and going, 'Yeah, we did our best for them and they did their best for themselves in representing the county.' That's the big drive. They have been doing that consistently the last number of seasons.
"It is a great testament of players that they are evolving with change and they are always going to grow.
"That is their desire to grow as a team, to learn new things, to try different methods."