Saturday 21 April 2018

Jim Gavin has some huge calls to make regarding the six forwards he deploys against Mayo

Will Jim Gavin change the make-up of his forward division this weekend?
Will Jim Gavin change the make-up of his forward division this weekend?
Conor McKeon

Conor McKeon

STICK? Twist?

A hefty part of the doubt about which tack Jim Gavin uses with regard to team selection for next Saturday’s All-Ireland final replay is lodged in the fact that performances of the ilk of the drawn match have been so rare, it’s impossible to make any evidence-based conclusions.

“Jim has quality people are him; Dec Darcy, Mick Deegan – guys who have soldiered a long time with Jim. And they would be very solid as a group,” former Dubs boss ‘Pillar’ Caffrey points out.

“Those guys would be very calm. The perception out there is that Dublin need to freshen it up.

“But Jim is the guy who is seeing these fellas every week. I’m sure there was a big A versus B game there at the weekend.

“Jim will have a better feel for who is in a better place to do it in the replay than anyone else.”

Last year, between the drawn All-Ireland semi-final with Mayo and the replayed victory, he swapped Michael Darragh Macauley for Denis Bastick in his starting midfield alignment.

Other than that, he trusted the rest of the players who had allowed  a five point lead evaporate to make amends six days afterwards.

The situation now is a little more complex.

Any one of three of the forwards who began the last day could make way for the seeming inevitability of Paddy Andrews starting.

Dean Rock is untouchable given his status as the team’s freetaker, leaving Bernard Brogan, Paul Flynn and Kevin McManamon.


Brogan and Flynn have have had significantly less influential summers than usual.

McManamon’s loss of form is isolated to the drawn match.

Against that, McManamon is the one most proven and therefore, most likely, to bring a game-turning impetus from the Dublin bench.

“Nobody can question their C.Vs,” says former Dubs boss, ‘Pillar’ Caffrey.

“But the only thing Jim will be looking at is whether he needs to freshen it up in relation to form.

“What a fella did last year or the year before doesn’t really count next Saturday evening.

“Normally, when you’re beaten, you’ve 12 months to stew before you get a chance (to make amends).

“This is just like last year’s semi-final. It’s about the team that plays best the next day.”

So many performed below their optimum, it is probably that Gavin will seek a change in attitude more so than a reconstruction of his team sheet or a whitewash of the tactics that have served the team so well until now.

As Caffrey points out: “Lessons will have been absorbed. But there are a lot of Dublin players that are hurting.

“A lot of criticism of them has come down the track.

“But sometimes as a manager, that’s the best way to go into a match – when lads are feeling a little disappointed, a little bit angry.

“They won’t have lost a lot of confidence in a two-week period.”

Herald Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport