Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Ice cool Dublin manager Jim Gavin is still thirsty for success

Good vibe: Philly McMahon hopes to call the tune when Dublin face Donegal in the All-Ireland semi-final
Good vibe: Philly McMahon hopes to call the tune when Dublin face Donegal in the All-Ireland semi-final

The rest of the GAA world might have already written off Dublin and Donegal's weekend date as just a matter of an outcome to be processed, but Dublin manager Jim Gavin drenches us all with his particular ice-bucket challenge.

By this stage, the 1995 All-Ireland winning player and defending All-Ireland champion manager has become adept at dousing any particular flashpoints and putting down hype, such as the recent analogy of Dublin funding and the effect the introduction Roman Abramovich had on the English Premier League, made by Donegal manager Jim McGuinness.

"We're all volunteers in the Dublin management team," said the 43-year-old, before he referenced his job as a flight operations inspector. "I'm heading off to work after this, that's the bedrock of the association at club level. It's a volunteers organisation, since 1884, that's what makes it great."

Question answered.

When the subject turns to Donegal's defensive system though, he becomes more enthused.

"Obviously teams progress and evolve over the seasons," he says of the Donegal team that Dublin met in 2011. That is certainly a good reference point. But they have evolved their game from that and I would suggest they are more comfortable with it now and players know where they need to set themselves up in that particular defensive pattern and the positional and game sense awareness will have developed."

Which leads to the question of pushing up, as they did against Monaghan, or hanging back in safety.

"It varies," he replies. "We have a standard sort of template that we use but that is modified depending on the opposition that we play and the great thing about these Dublin players is they have a high level of game intelligence, quite disciplined and can move in and out of different strategies that we want them to play."

He also defended Donegal's scoring threats. Colm McFadden has only yielded two points from play this year in the Championship and it would seem that if Philly McMahon can keep him quiet then Dublin will be halfway there, but Gavin rates the attacking talent in the ranks of the Ulster champions.

"In attack, they're very competent," he added. "They manage the ball very well, great patterns of movement and get players into the scoring positions.

"And they have a very high shot-scoring ratio from taking the right options at the right time."

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