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Dublin manager Gavin quells hype despite final triumph

By Declan Bogue

It's been a few years since there was unbridled joy in the post-match press conference of the new All-Ireland champions. Not withstanding some moments of levity with Conor Counihan following Cork's win in 2010, we have to go back to 2008.

Sitting with the Brians Dooher and McGuigan either side of him and Sam Maguire perched on the table in front of them, Tyrone had a bit of craic with the thing. McGuigan talked of feeling like a Premiership soccer player and Harte was able to glory in the foresight of keeping Sean Cavanagh at full-forward as he was later crowned Player of the Year.

Yet to study Dublin manager Jim Gavin and his equally-serious captain Stephen Cluxton here was to witness two men with buckets of sand, frantically quelling any notion of hype ahead of 2014, as if opponents are lying in wait to lay down a marker in the O'Byrne Cup. The start of something big, Jim? "No, no guarantees in sport. We've won this year but the minute the referee blows the final whistle, that's when the 2013 season ends. I know from speaking to other managers, they're already setting themselves up for the 2014 championship. We're probably behind now already."

Which, if you were to take literally, would mean Dublin done themselves no favours in winning yesterday. In giving up 30 frees, Gavin felt more emotion.

"I think we had seven frees in the game? Twelve? That's just beyond me. I can't understand that. I really can't.

"That's one of the very disappointing things. Not only were we playing Mayo but we were playing the referee as well."

Dublin took to dragging their opponents down in the last quarter, a practise that Gavin justified with: "They were frustrated. That free count is just not acceptable. Anybody here can ask me are Dublin a cynical team and we're not. We play the game with certain values in the squad and we play the game the way we believe it should be played.

"And it's not only today. We probably held our counsel for most of the games but that has been the trend in all the games."

The improvement in Dublin in the second half was immense, but we weren't getting a chink of light shone on that.

"We always say to the players that half time is only a break in play. The most important thing for us is that we're ahead at the end. Half time is a time to rest and regroup but there's no big drama in the Dublin dressing room."

As for James Horan, nothing but the unvarnished truth and a willingness to hold the hand up once again and admit that mistakes were made.

"We had enough ball to win the game. We just made too many mistakes and had too many turnovers. We dominated the first 15 minutes but we didn't get the score return we possibly should have. We had too many wides."

He continued: "In the second half, when we were attacking, we just made some poor decisions at times and it eventually cost us."

Last year, there was an optimism to Horan after defeat to Donegal, this time, there was just flat defeatism.

"We just have to look at it again," he said.

"Like we've always told them, we'll look at it like we do after every game. We are making improvements. There's no doubt about that. But we just didn't get over the line today."

Belfast Telegraph

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