GAA Football

Jim Gavin equals Kerry legend Mick O'Dwyer as Dublin power to four in-a-row

Dublin manager Jim Gavin with Tyrone boss Mickey Harte
Picture by Philip Walsh
Andy Watters

JIM Gavin may never achieve Mick O’Dwyer’s legendary status or popularity, but he equaled ‘Micko’s’ record by guiding his Dublin side to a fourth Sam Maguires in succession yesterday.

The Dub and the Kerry man may have little else in common apart from being the outstanding managers of their era and next year Gavin will send his team out to do what O’Dwyer could not – win a five in-a-row.

Of course, he is much too canny to talk about that, but who will stop Dublin’s quest next year? Maybe Mayo? Maybe Kerry? Maybe Tyrone again?

Whoever it is, Dublin will be the team to beat and Gavin proved again yesterday how difficult he is to out-fox as his team came back from four points down to win by six despite a fighting finish from the Red Hands.

“When it comes down to the last two teams, they’re going to give everything and there was no surprise there from Tyrone,” said Gavin.

“They are an outstanding team and my admiration for them went up 10-fold after the game the way they, to a man and unprompted, stayed on the pitch until the Dublin guys came down from the Hogan Stand. The respect that they showed was brilliant and it’s very humbling to see that.

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“Going into the game we knew it was going to be very tough. They got 5-1 up and they had the momentum but our guys don’t blink, which is a great characteristic to have. We just keep going through the phases and got ourselves back into the game.

“Tyrone finished with a really strong offensive attacking team. Putting Colm Cavanagh up to full-forward showed their intent and they really went after us. They left everything on the pitch and our guys in the dressingroom are completely fatiqued from a fantastic battle.”

Gavin's Dublin team will chase a five in-a-row next year
Picture by Philip Walsh

Dublin were leading by eight points when Peter Harte’s penalty hauled Tyrone back into a game that had been slipping steadily away from them since Paul Mannion had netted a penalty of his own midway through the first half.

“I think the GAA should be very proud of both counties for the spectacle they put on today,” said Gavin.

“There were some great scores and the attacking phases were quite equal but we were a bit ahead of them on the efficiency rate (16 Tyrone wide to seven for Dublin). That’s credit to the Dublin players who have worked hard over the past couple of years and got due reward.

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“Tyrone put them under severe pressure but the mental resolve in that Dublin team is just a pleasure to witness. The collective ethos that they have – they see the prize as serving the county, not the self. There are players who didn’t get game-time and they don’t show it but they must be disappointed not to play in an All-Ireland final. They just want the team to do well.”

Dublin won the previous three titles by three points, one point and one point again against Mayo last year. Yesterday’s victory was the most emphatic of this four in-a-row, but Gavin didn’t single it out as the most satisfying.

“They are all really satisfying from a coaching perspective,” he said.

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