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Mass defences a compliment to the threat we pose - Gavin

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Jim Gavin

Jim Gavin

SPORTSFILE

Jim Gavin

Dealing with mass defence is part of the new reality for Dublin football that they have to get used to, manager Jim Gavin acknowledged yesterday.

Tyrone held Dublin to their lowest score, 1-9, of Gavin's 29-match (league and championship) tenure as manager in Croke Park on Saturday night, sometimes using all 15 players as a defensive screen when the reigning champions were in possession.

The match ended level, courtesy of a late goal, and Gavin insisted yesterday that he took it as a "compliment" to his forwards that teams elected to set up in such a way against them.

"Teams not going man-to-man is a compliment to the threat that our forwards pose," he said.

"It is a reality, something we are facing and are in the middle of. It is a fantastic to have that challenge at this time of the season and we are learning lots from it. So it has been very productive.

"We have come across it before. I thought we controlled the game well in general but some of our decision-making and passing let us down at crucial moments when, with a couple of more phases of play, we might have found a gap.

"Sometimes patience let us down and the way some of these defensive systems are designed to counter-attack, when we turned the ball over they would have got scores off those counter-attacks."

Gavin said he "fully understood" the frustration of supporters watching such games unfold but added that Dublin "need to just get on and play whatever we face."

Gavin also re-iterated dissatisfaction with the free count against his side on Saturday night, 24-7, but wasn't critical of referee David Gough.

"Looking back on the tapes there were some were marginal calls. Just to get seven frees for us was also surprising," he said.

"I would be loath to think of us as a cynical side. That certainly wouldn't be the message that the management team would preach anyway."

Despite dropping five points from a possible eight, Gavin is adamant Dublin are still "in control" of what they are doing and will be stronger for the championship because of the "process" they are going through.

"We are not looking for a settled team. Most teams that we are playing are settled," he said at a launch in Parnell Park.

Tactically

"We are trying new things, tactically we are trying new things. Some work, some don't.

"And we want to give players a chance to stake a claim, not only in the starting 15 or squad of 26 but on the panel itself. You have to give every player a fair chance.

"It can be a rough sea, but we are going to hold our course and we are very much in control of where we want to go. And I think once we come out the far side of that process, we will be in a much stronger place come championship."

Dublin could have Diarmuid Connolly back for this weekend's trip to Mayo, depending on how he feels at training this week, he confirmed.

Gavin expressed surprise at the U-turn over the abandonment of the clock/hooter at Congress last month and was critical of the negativity towards it.

"I certainly think in any high-performing management or company organisation, you'd expect people in committees to come back with solutions rather than problems," he said.

"There are many ways we can address this. It just needs a bit of thinking outside the box. I do understand the problems that were raised but I think they can be addressed.

"I think it would have only benefited our games."

Irish Independent