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Dublin boss Gavin questions ref decisions

By Declan Bogue

Even after the night before, Jim Gavin was doggedly sticking to his guns about the treatment he feels his Dublin side have got from referees in winning this year's All-Ireland Championship.

Speaking at the Gibson Hotel, the scene of the All-Ireland winners' banquet the previous night, Gavin addressed something he had taken issue with in the post-match press conference when it was revealed that Mayo had received 33 frees to Dublin's 12.

"We look at every free we give away and see why did we give it away and how can we try to improve," he said.

"Was it a tactical error where guys were overloaded with men or a technical error where the guy got psychologically lazy and put a hand in or physically he couldn't catch the guy and tripped him up?

"It's probably on the opposite side of the pitch where Bernard Brogan found it difficult to buy a free all season. We've had very few frees all season within the scoring zone against opposition teams. For whatever reason I don't know."

Gavin's complaints do not compare favourably with closer study.

In the first round of Leinster they had 19 frees to Westmeath's 27, and from that point they had more than Kildare (24 to 17), Meath (21 to 20), Cork (19 to 15), and just one less free than Kerry in the semi-final (19 to 20).

In the last 10 minutes of the game, Dublin committed one foul for overcarrying, and nine other personal fouls.

With 10 minutes of regulation time left, Rory O'Carroll, Darren Daly, Kevin McManamon and Ger Brennan were all booked.

The cynicism was obvious but Gavin attributed it to a growing frustration among the Dublin players, placing the blame on the refereeing.

"We spoke at half-time about the importance of keeping their discipline," he added.

"They're quite good at that but they were frustrated that a lot of the decisions seemed to be going against them. Rory O'Carroll was a case in point.

"I saw it again last night and it looked a good shoulder on shoulder tackle. The Mayo players didn't seem to make a big deal of it, they played on but then the referee blew for a free and gave him a yellow card. That was a bit strange."

In the strange area that Gaelic football finds itself, anticipating the black card in January, Gavin further added, "We were rightly punished by indiscipline, by one of the Dublin players when he tapped the ball away and the ball was moved up. We needed to see more of that. All that pulling players down, next year hopefully those players will see the line."

Over in the CityWest Hotel, Mayo manager James Horan declared himself surprised at the tone of Gavin's remarks that Dublin were playing 15 men and the ref when he said, "I find that amazing. I find that absolutely amazing if that was the comment.

"I know Jim made another interesting comment, that he'd walk away if his team were cynical so maybe that's another comment Jim should look at."

Last year, much was made of Mayo fouling Dublin players in the second half of their semi-final and Horan invoked that memory when he asked, "What was the free count? And what were Dublin saying after the semi-final last year, were they shouting up and down about it?

"Sure look it, fair play to Jim and fair play to Dublin, they won the game and they deserved to win it."

When all this debate dies down, the focus will turn to whether Dublin can retain Sam in 2014.

Not since Billy Morgan and Cork in 1990 has a manager achieved two consecutive football All-Irelands; Kerry's double in 2006 and 2007 being shared between Jack O'Connor and Pat O'Shea.

Gavin is asked why this might be the case, just as a would-be traditional musician begins thumping a bodhrán in the hotel lobby and he quips, "I think there's a lot of distractions after winning and you're exposing all your tactical gameplans in your winning season.

"If you're not prepared to evolve and to move on then teams around you will evolve and move on.

"As I said yesterday, I know teams are preparing for next year and that's just the hard facts of it.

"So, our players will go back to their clubs and we won't regroup again until a couple of months' time.

"Between the top teams, there's only millimetres between us.

"There's not that much in it as we saw yesterday and in all the games and if you don't evolve and try and improve your game plan you'll be found out the following year."

Dublin for a two-in-a-row? We will wait and see. Mayo might yet have a say in that.

Belfast Telegraph


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