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Gavin: Dubs can get even better

By Declan Bogue

Perhaps there was an element of referee Pádraig O'Sullivan allowing Fermanagh an easy way back into the game, or maybe he just thought the Dublin tackling was too far north of robust.

Either way he awarded 22 frees to Fermanagh compared to Dublin's four.

"Once the game is on, I can't control the referee, it's his interpretation," said Dublin manager Jim Gavin.

"I'm sure he did his best. Whatever frustrations were in the crowd, I thought our players held their composure and tried to be the best they could be. It didn't happen in the last quarter but over the expanse of the game we're happy with the win."

Happy enough with the win surely, but this wasn't the same ruthless, cruel Dublin who put teams on the rack in Leinster and keep turning the wheel. Perhaps Fermanagh were better than what they had faced before now, but he knows it won't suffice with an All-Ireland semi-final coming up.

"The players won't need me to tell them that the last quarter won't be good enough against the likes of Mayo or Donegal and that certainly gives us areas to focus on and improve on over the coming weeks."

So what happened, in order for Fermanagh to outscore them 2-4 to 0-3 in the last eight minutes?

"We sat off and gave them some space, gave them time on the ball and, in fairness to Fermanagh, I'm not plamásing them, when they got that space they took some very good scores. All credit to them."

The 2-15 they conceded was the second-highest tally they have leaked under Jim Gavin, beaten only by Donegal's 3-14 in last year's All-Ireland semi-final. Although Gavin can't make opposition teams any better, he can only assess things at his end, and as an aside, Ciaran Kilkenny appears to be fine for the semi-final having been taken off at half-time.

"Our preparation has been excellent," the Round Towers clubman insisted.

"The way the competition is drawn we just have had to take each team on their own merits and give them the respect that they deserve.

"We did that with Fermanagh with the way that we prepared for this game but we understand that no matter what team we will face in the semi-finals that performance in the last quarter of the game will not be good enough but certainly we can take away a lot of positives from today, our shooting was excellent, to score just one free and all the rest from play was a very good return."

And his final thoughts on Pete McGrath revealing that they will be targeting Ulster in 2016.

"The way they played, with the intensity and the endeavour in the last quarter… I have been generally impressed by them and the way they played in that last quarter reminded of how they played against Roscommon in Enniskillen.

"They really went hard at it, pushed right up and took some great scores and played to their true potential. That's what they realised out there in the park today so I think they have a great chance."

Belfast Telegraph


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