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Dublin must improve to seal three in a row, says Gavin

 

By Declan Bogue

Dublin may be going for three All-Ireland titles in a row - they would be the first to achieve the feat since Kerry in 1984-86 - but manager Jim Gavin is determined to steer the conversation towards performances.

After the thumping of Tyrone in this year's semi-final, and ahead of Sunday's decider against Mayo, he ventured that his Dublin side under-performed across last season's two finals against Stephen Rochford's men.

Asked if he was able to establish why that was, he stated: "We did, yeah, and we've been working on it during the season, that's for sure.

"There are lots of elements in both our attacking and defensive play that we still need to improve on.

"We've been working on it diligently during the National League and during the Championship games. The ultimate test is an All-Ireland final against a great Mayo team. That's where we'll know if the lessons of last year have been learned."

Gavin has now been in place for the last five seasons. The only Championship defeat he has suffered in that time was the ambush by Donegal in the 2014 semi-final.

Not only have Dublin learned from that and become watertight in defence, they have never looked vulnerable since.

"I think what we've learned is that you have to improve, you can't remain static," maintained Gavin about what knowledge has been accrued during his spell in charge.

"Each season that we've taken the team, we've tried to evolve. Each game we've tried to evolve, even from the game against Tyrone, we've identified things we have to work on and we're going to have to get them right against Mayo.

"So that's probably the learning piece, it's the growth mindset piece that we have learned that we have to keep moving forward.

"We're on the right track, there's no doubt about that, but if we remain static, you can see the evolution of the Mayo team and the bits that they're adding to their game. I think the game is evolving all the time, we just have to keep pace with it."

Excluding Dublin, Mayo have won more Championship games than anyone else in Croke Park this decade.

"You don't get to four All-Ireland finals in the last six years not having that resilience they've shown, and since their defeat in the Connacht semi-final this year they have really pushed on," said Gavin by way of appreciation.

"I'm sure that they have learned an awful lot from the nine Championship games that they've gone through and they're definitely evolving as a team.

"They do have a very strong squad now."

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