Sunday 18 March 2018

Jim Gavin notes Tyrone's improvement in attack since league

Gavin: “I think our game-plan continues to change.
Gavin: “I think our game-plan continues to change." Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Dublin manager Jim Gavin has acknowledged his side is potentially facing a similar challenge to their 2014 All-Ireland semi-final against Donegal, their last championship defeat.

Dublin have won 18 consecutive championship matches since then to take them into the line of fire of a team Gavin feels merges strong defence with "a really impressive attacking game".

"I think that's fair to say (similar to 2014). You just need to look at their scoring in the Ulster Championship to see how good they are at that counter-attacking style.

"Looking at it the last day against Armagh and how easily they dispatched them playing a very defensive system and a really impressive attacking game. They seem to have got the balance right," he said.

Gavin, who will have Cormac Costello back in action after a prolonged spell on the sidelines through injury and will have Diarmuid Connolly back from a three-month suspension, was slow to pinpoint that 2014 defeat as a defining game in his role as Dublin manager and how they have evolved since, however.

"I think our game-plan continues to change. If you go back five years, it has changed, if you go back 10, 20 years the game of Gaelic football continues to change. That's a great flux that we're in.

"It's a fantastic time to be involved in it as a coach where there's a lot of innovation going on, it's continued to grow.

"You can see even for the Tyrone game, the way it continues to evolve and we're going to have to keep adapting to keep up with them."

Tyrone, he accepted, is a massive test for this Dublin team.

"We've always looked at them as having a big scoring threat, even going back to our National League game in early February this year.

"They looked very impressive going forward and they got a great goal in that game.

"Defence has always been their cornerstone and they have always been an exceptionally good counter-attacking team, but they have really added to it since that league game.

"If you look at their championship games it has been so impressive from them, particularly players coming off the bench has really added to it as well. They are just a modern football team."

Dublin's league record against Tyrone in Croke Park features a one-point win, a one-point defeat and two draws. For both draws they have had to come from behind and only last February the deficit was five points down the home stretch when they responded impressively to preserve their unbeaten sequence.

"Back in February throughout the game Tyrone were trying to stamp their authority on us. We just hung in there. It was the earlier part of the season for us as we were just back from the team break so the positive for me was that with 60 (minutes) on the clock, at five or six down, we still stuck at it.

"We showed resilience and resolve to stick in there. Even going into added time we were still a point down and we nailed a long-range free to draw the game so it was satisfying in that regard. Of the cycle that we are in, this game will be played in the 33rd week of the year as opposed to the fourth or fifth week. So in that context it was a satisfying result for us."


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