Saturday 21 April 2018

Shelving of clock-hooter plan leaves Gavin 'baffled'

Jim Gavin, pictured at yesterday’s unveiling of Ballygowan and Energise Sport as the new official hydration partners of Dublin GAA, can’t understand why the ‘hooter’ has not been introduced
Jim Gavin, pictured at yesterday’s unveiling of Ballygowan and Energise Sport as the new official hydration partners of Dublin GAA, can’t understand why the ‘hooter’ has not been introduced
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Dublin manager Jim Gavin does give a hoot. . . but the GAA doesn't, at least not for the men's game, and so timekeeping will remain the responsibility of the referees.

It's a situation that baffles Gavin, as he believes that the Association can only benefit from the clock-stopping and the hooter system which applies in ladies' football.

And as a believer in the democratic process which applies within the GAA, the Dubs boss considers that the proposal for change should have been rubber-stamped by the Central Council.

In discussing the issue, Gavin stressed he had no problem with the amount of injury time - about one minute - which was played in Sunday's League defeat against Cork. The Rebels scored an insurance point in injury-time to clinch a 1-15 to 0-16 result.

BREAKDOWN

"It's the referee's call. We don't get a breakdown on what those seconds add up to if there are one or two stoppages. I am not going to make an issue that there should be more time," he said in relation to the Pairc Ui Rinn game.

On the principle of a clock and hooter system, Gavin said he would be disappointed if the GAA totally shelved the idea.

" It came from a proposal from a Wexford club. The GAA, when they make decisions, they are very democratic," he said.

"It can sometimes procedurally be a bit slow, but that's the process.

"It came from a club, it was passed at Congress, now it's gone to Central Council and I believe Central Council blocked it and I'm not too sure why that has happened.

"I think it's a fantastic initiative. It would add more excitement to the game, so it's a little bit baffling why it hasn't taken place. I don't know the logistical issues but they seem pretty straightforward to me."

Ah, but what about wily team managers abusing the system by wasting time bringing on substitutes to run down the clock near the end of matches?

The answer, in Gavin's view, is quite simple.

"If a team is bringing players on late in the game to run the clock out, then put it in that the clock stops," he said.

"It's as simple as that. It seems to me there are lots of easy solutions to this and I think it would be a fantastic initiative.

"The games are exciting anyway, but it would really add to it, particularly when the games are so close.

"Not only for the players, but the viewing public at home and on TV and for the spectators as well, that would make it more interesting for them."

Of immediate interest is the return of Donegal to Croke Park on Saturday night for the first time since they shocked the Dubs - and virtually every pundit in the land - in the All-Ireland semi-final last season.

The prospect of residual mental scar tissue affecting the Dubs is very small - mainly because a large cohort of the personnel who played that match won't be on duty this time.

Gavin is sticking with his policy of giving game time to younger players and some new additions to the squad, and seeks to marry the requirement of staying in contention for the league with exposing panellists to the realities of top-level football.

"Five of the subs that came on on Sunday were players that played with the colleges. They didn't play with us and they hadn't really trained with us, except for one session midweek during the month of January," he said.

"So it was just trying to give them an opportunity before the Sigerson kicks off this week. Most of them play U-21 football as well and that's not too far away.

"Most of them will be with the U-21 team, so we're just trying to give them game time.

"We're always trying to strengthen the squad."

Reflecting on the aftermath of the Cork defeat, Gavin said: "We didn't perform, that's the big thing.

"But I learned about them (the players) over the last three years that they are a mentally tough group of men.

DISAPPOINTED

"They were naturally disappointed by the way the game went, but quite quickly they picked themselves up and they are very motivated for the season ahead."

Selection against new Donegal manager Rory Gallagher's team will be carefully considered by the Dublin management.

Ciaran Kilkenny and Kevin O'Brien, who were on the long-term injury list last season, are progressing well, and Gavin did not rule them out for Saturday.

"It's a possibility. They're certainly there," he said.

"They're available for selection now. Again, there is a certain group of players we want to give more game time to, the guys with the colleges and U-21s, before that really hots up.

"It's hard for me to say at this particular moment. We'll see later in the week."

Key players Stephen Cluxton and Bernard Brogan are on track to resume playing, and Gavin said that the Alan Brogan situation will be resolved very soon.

Irish Independent

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