Friday 20 April 2018

Jim Gavin heaps praise on the unexpected All-Ireland final heroes who helped Dublin to glory

Frank Roche

Frank Roche

JIM GAVIN has saluted his Dublin heroes after their latest "uniquely special" All-Ireland triumph – a fourth in six seasons, and a third under Gavin's trophy-laden command.

The All-Ireland holders extended their unbeaten run to an incredible 29 games with their heart-stopping one-point win over Mayo.

But, of far more profound significance, they enshrined their place in the pantheon of great teams by becoming the first football team to go back-to-back since Kerry in 2007.

And afterwards, in his own typically unflustered way, the Dubs boss described a raucous scene in the winning dressing-room.

"The guys are obviously delighted after winning an All-Ireland title. It's great energy down there and great songs being sung – they're just obviously very happy," he remarked. 

"It's been a long season and, for their part, to go after that performance piece today … and they executed it quite well in parts, so they're obviously delighted."

Asked how this latest win compared to the previous two, in 2013 and last year, Gavin replied: "I think they're all uniquely special. We've played, over two games, against this incredible Mayo side.

"I don't think they (Mayo) probably got as much credit (as they deserved) ... people went after our performance piece in the first game, but it was all due to the intensity that Mayo brought to that game and the defensive system which they tweaked with mid-season.

"I thought defensively in both games they were superb. I said it going into the game – there's only a bounce of a ball between us and that remains the case."

Reflecting on the reaction of some star players who were dropped for the throw-in but made an impact off the bench, the Sky Blue supremo said: "Part of their culture and their value system is they are about the sum of the parts. Players are obviously disappointed that they don't play.

"But once it's explained to them that it's for the greater good … I thought the boys who started today did really well. 

"And, as you said, Bernard (Brogan) coming in, Cormac (Costello) getting three from the bench, even Darren Daly deep into the game got probably a match-winning block. 

"That epitomised to me the spirit and the character in this Dublin team; they showed that to me in the drawn game and they showed it to me today when Mayo threw everything and anything at them."

Corner-back Michael Fitzsimons was among those parachuted into the team at the 11th hour. Asked if the Cuala defender had rewarded this show of faith with his best ever game for Dublin, Gavin said it was "definitely up there."

He continued: "He’s been playing that way all season. Just that David (Byrne) and Jonny (Cooper) and Philly McMahon were playing well in that full-back line. We gave him his chance and he took it with both arms. When you see him in training, it’s no surprise."

And, on the subject of Costello's crucial three-point cameo, Gavin said: "He’s playing well in training. Those three points that he got, I could give you lots of tape from training games and training in general that he kicks. That’s the form that he’s in. 

"We had faith in him. We believed he would have an impact with his pace. He has been an outstanding player underage, had a little bit of a dip in form – but has come back strong now."

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