For the past few years, Dublin fans have become accustom to long summers of championship football. Summers as long as the school holidays.
To have won two of the last three, not to mention three in the last five, had been something the faithful among the population in the capital had waited a lifetime for. For some younger fans this was quite literally the case.
Under the methodical supervision of one Jim Gavin though, the city has enjoyed some of the most attractive, innovative and intelligent football to be seen in the sport in a very long time.
And the one and only blip in this illustrious tale, will rear its head again this weekend.
August 31st 2014, to coin a phrase from the fighting fraternity, the unstoppable force met an immovable object. Donegal successfully stopped the odds on favourites and stunned the GAA community.
But the Dublin boss refuses to buy into he theory that there is a score to settle this Saturday.
“What is in the past is in the past”, Gavin told the42.ie, “we have never anchored ourselves in the past and that’s including the games that we have won”.
“That wouldn’t be the culture now, that kind of negative energy, we would be very much espousing the positives.”
Gavin is no stranger to the current Donegal set up. Since the 2014 clash, Dublin beat the The Tír Conaill Men in one League fixture in 2015, in Round 6 of this year’s National Football League by 6 points and then two weeks later in the League Semi finals by 10 points. But this is championship football now and the stakes area lot higher with no safety net of a second chance.
Dublin have continued to progress in many ways since Gavin’s ratification and their style has spawned from many tough encounters and Gavin is a devoted advocate of learning at every juncture.
“We have to have tweaks in our game plan on a consistent basis. If you don’t, we know that teams will evolve beyond us and we will remain static. We’ve got to keep going.”
“We know if we remain static, the game plan we used in ’13, ’14 and ’15 isn’t good enough because players and opposition teams will see that.”
Rory Gallagher has been at the helm of the Donegal Senior Football panel since the departure of Jim McGuinness in 2014.
“He is just a very astute coach” Jim admitted. “They did what they had to do in the league to get their Division 1 status.”
“They were very impressive in the two games against Monaghan, played a Division one team in Cork the next day, and no more than ourselves, they are where they want to be, in an All-Ireland quarter-final.”
“We expect something innovative from him on Saturday”.
Whatever Gallagher’s Donegal bring to Croke Park this weekend, the Dublin boss and his 26 panel members will no doubt be prepared for any eventuality.
“We have learnt the lessons and boxed them away, try to put them into practice. We would be looking at a completely different Donegal team to the one that is going to be playing.”