Sunday 25 February 2018

Rock still figures in Dubs' masterplan, insists Gavin

Dublin manager Jim Gavin says Dean Rock is still in the frame for a starting place. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Dublin manager Jim Gavin says Dean Rock is still in the frame for a starting place. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

DUBLIN manager Jim Gavin says 'supersub' Dean Rock has not blown his chance to break into the starting line-up, despite his failure to score from play last time out when he got a great chance to impress.

Despite scoring in every game last summer, Rock did not start once.

The Ballymun Kickhams forward eventually got his first championship start against Wexford two weeks ago and scored four frees but was replaced at half-time by Cormac Costello, who shot the lights out with his 1-5 (2fs) contribution.

But ahead of Sunday's eagerly-awaited Leinster SFC final against Meath, Gavin has stressed again that he picks his starting team on training-ground form – insisting that Rock "took his chance" well.

"He played well in the context of the game plan that we wanted him to play," Gavin said. "Some people mightn't see that but his free-kicks were clinical.

"He did his duty in the game. He stepped up to the mark.

"He's playing very well in training again so he will have more time in a Dublin jersey."

Gavin constantly espouses the team ethic and 21-man game and admits that he would prefer players to have an assigned shirt number or their name on it, for the season, similar to how it operates in soccer and basketball.

"It's not about the start or the finish," he stressed.

"If we had our way, we'd name the team alphabetically. We don't place any emphasis on the number on a player's back.

"It's what he can do for the team, whether that's finishing a game or starting a game.

"It's management's job to select those players on a tactical level for the team and to get the best use of them.

"Sometimes that means finishing a game and sometimes that means starting and giving the team a bedrock," he added.

Gavin is unlikely to name his team until after training on Friday night for what he is predicting will be "a traditional Dublin/Meath game".

"We would always see Meath as playing traditional football. Like ourselves, they play a very robust brand of football," he said.

"They are tight in defence, get lots of bodies back and make it difficult. Kildare maybe got one shot on goal in 70 minutes of football – that's a demonstration of how tight the Meath defence is."

Dublin have won their duels in the last two Leinster finals but lost to the Royals in a provincial semi-final in 2010 when they were hit by five goals.

"They're obviously able to get goals. They hurt Dublin back in 2010, they demonstrated that against Carlow and they had multiple goal opportunities against Kildare," Gavin noted.

"They've been impressive in both games, 9-29 is an impressive return in anybody's book.

"They've been very good, playing traditional Meath football."

But he believes that the Royals' ability to keep going for the full 70 minutes this year is particularly significant – a feature the All-Ireland champions have made their own.

"Kildare were always going to come back at them but they looked quite comfortable in the closing minutes.

"They finished the game quite strong, they closed out the game in a professional manner. They have improved in that area.

"It was a good contest," he said of last year's 2-15 to 0-14 Leinster final victory.

"They were up by a few points at half-time in a very tight game. They contested heavily in midfield and took some fantastic scores.

"It was just a ding-dong battle and I think we can expect the same next Sunday."

Irish Independent

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