DUBS BOSS GAVIN: WE KEPT OUR DISCIPLINE IN DONEGAL CLASH.
JIM Gavin attributed it to a clash of styles.
“When one team plays defensive football and one team plays attacking football,” began the Dublin manager, by way of explanation of an unseasonably narky evening in the company of Donegal, “and the two collide, sometimes that’s the fall-out.
“We’re very happy with how our players held their discipline,” he continued, “and I’m satisfied with how we performed.”
Dublin took two League points in a 2-10 to o-11 win, a buxom bounty in the circumstances.
Because, for a start, they were left Kevin McManamon-less, the St Jude’s forward – not exactly a noted hatchet man – sent off for a second booking after 45 minutes.
Secondly, their loss in Cork on the League’s opening afternoon left Dublin, were they of a mind to continue their spring into the competition’s semi-finals, pointless.
But mainly, beating Donegal – even this early in the year and inconsequential though the result ultimately is in the greater scheme of things – is an itch Dublin just had to scratch on Saturday night.
And so those in attendance left Croke Park with the enduring ennui of a cold, jagged evening where quite often, squabbles and back-biting curtailed, and perhaps even dominated, the football part of the football match.
A game that could be labeled fractious the same way a hurricane could be described breezy.
“They’re a physical side,” Gavin said, perhaps guilty only of understatement in the context of the previous 70-plus minutes, “and so are we.
“And when two physical teams come together that’s the outcome so no, I wasn’t surprised at all.”
The crucial event in the direction of the result arrived on 64 minutes when Jack McCaffrey did as Jack McCaffrey often does and sped through the tangle of deep-lying defenders, played a one-two with Davy Byrne, and roofed his finish into the top-corner of Donegal sub goalie, Mickey Boyle’s net, a balm for the Dublin sores exposed by McManamon’s dismissal.
“Typical Jack McCaffrey goal, hit with venom,” praised Gavin.
“I’m delighted for Jack, he’s back to his best and we can see it.”
But there were other bright sparks for Gavin.
Mick Fitzsimons had a stormer in defence, behind the growingly impressive John Small.
Denis Bastick was hugely efficient in the middle of the park, though the blue ribband for high fielding went to Emmet Ó Conghaile for three sky-scraping snatches.
Dean Rock kicked most (five out of seven) of his placed balls but clearly, it wasn’t a night for flair-filled forward play, particularly when Donegal routinely retreated in totality.
Michael Murphy – perhaps lucky not to be disciplined before his 68th minute black card – and Paddy McBrearty were the best of the Donegal bunch but ultimately, Dublin played with a greater sense of purpose and possessed more scoring threats (seven to Donegal’s three).
“It was satisfying that we took our chances tonight,” Gavin admitted. “That’s always been our aspiration.”