Sunday 19 November 2017

'It's ultimately my responsibility' - Jim Gavin blames team selection for Dublin loss against Kerry

Dublin manager Jim Gavin following the Allianz Football League Division 1 Final match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Dublin manager Jim Gavin following the Allianz Football League Division 1 Final match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Frank Roche

Frank Roche

JIM GAVIN has bemoaned "uncharacteristic" unforced errors as central to the first Allianz Football League final defeat of his five-year Dublin tenure.

The Sky Blues boss pinpointed the third-quarter, during which Kerry landed six unanswered points, as the crucial period of today's absorbing Croke Park contest.

"Disappointed with that performance. Too many unforced errors. Gave the ball away too much - certainly had enough of it. The third quarter of the game, we kicked an awful lot of the ball away," he stressed.

"But all credit to Kerry. Their score execution was very good there today. They got some great points and fully deserved the win, so hats off to them."

Gavin reckoned Dublin had enough possession during this third quarter but "just turned it over needlessly. Kicked it away, handpassed it away – very uncharacteristic. But it certainly punished us, and put us in a very tough position going down the stretch, five points down.

"I thought they showed great heart again, great resilience to come back and be within the width of a post to put the game into extra-time, a long-range free from Dean (Rock). And we had a bit of momentum at that stage, but unfortunately this time a little bit too late."

Gavin insisted there were no portents of that performance during training in the last week but added: "When a lack of a performance happens like that there today, it's ultimately my responsibility. 

"But the preparations went very well this week, great energy, great focus by the players. We knew, as they always are, Kerry/Dublin games are very demanding and there was a national final, a cup on the table to be won. So we knew it was going to be a very tense game, which it turned out to be. 

"So no, you couldn't fault the preparations. Team selection? Absolutely, that's my responsibility and we'd have to have a look at that – did we start the right players and bring the right players in? 

"But I thought the boys who finished the game had great heart and desire, and again I couldn't question their resilience again there today – just a little bit too late."

As for the end of Dublin's epic unbeaten run – embracing 36 league and championship games spread over 25 months – Gavin dismissed a suggestion that the record-breaking streak may have become an albatross.

"No, it's never been spoken about by the players," he maintained. "Obviously people outside talk about it, but we've always been focused upon each game that we play. It wasn't being spoken about a couple of months ago, and then it just popped up. It hasn't been referenced at all. 

"The boys will always play with ambition, no matter what situation they're in or whatever way teams set up against them," he continued. 

"They kept going at it, and in the championship we'll have to keep going at it. There'll be lots of take-aways from today, that's for sure."

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