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Gavin a fan of rival McGrath

By John Campbell

Published 01/08/2015

Unknown: Jim Gavin admits he doesn't know Fermanagh well
Unknown: Jim Gavin admits he doesn't know Fermanagh well

Jim Gavin would certainly qualify as a fully paid-up member of the Peter McGrath fan club.

The Dublin manager believes his Fermanagh counterpart is an "iconic figure not just in Ulster but in the GAA as a whole" and has transformed his adopted county's fortunes to such an extent that the Leinster champions will have their guard up from the throw-in in tomorrow's All-Ireland quarter-final at Croke Park.

"Peter carries himself like all good leaders, he is humble as he goes about his business. He has always said that it is a player's game and that he is there to facilitate and empower people," said Gavin.

"That's the way he has this Fermanagh team playing and with a lot of structure in defence. They are very composed on the ball and they pick their moments to attack and they have been very fruitful in doing that."

And he concedes that his side will be journeying into the unknown tomorrow.

"We are down to the top eight teams in the country and every one of those teams have got there on merit," pointed out Gavin.

"The prize on offer is a shot at the top four and that is as relevant to Fermanagh as it is to us. It is a new challenge we face against a side we don't know, so there is that danger as well.

"We haven't come across them before. There is that sense of the unknown."

Gavin's side's ability to mount lightning thrusts, switch the direction of play and maximise Croke Park's inviting acres will make them formidable opponents.

In Stephen Cluxton, Rory O'Carroll, Philly McMahon and Johnny Cooper, Dublin possess top-class defenders, Michael Daragh Macauley is in a class of his own at midfield and up front Diarmuid Connolly, Ciaran Kilkenny and Bernard Brogan are capable of inflicting serious damage.

Dublin's stamina, fitness and skill blend within a strategy that is based on an expansive attacking policy yet without sacrificing defensive responsibilities.

Gavin makes it clear, too, that he will be looking for further improvement tomorrow.

"We were not as accurate as we can be the last day and we have to be mindful of that," he pointed out.

And that's a sombre warning for Fermanagh.

Belfast Telegraph

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