With the GAA and GPA now in huddle formation and drawing up their list for this year’s All Star Awards and indeed the mighty task of choosing the players of the year its sometimes easy to forget the mechanics that go into making these players ready to face the long calendar year.
Philly McMahon has paid a massive tribute to Jim Gavin and the entire Dublin backroom team for preparing them for the return leg in this year’s All Ireland Senior Championship.
In a recent interview with the Irish Daily Mirror, the Ballymun defender explained how Dublin’s management raised their game following the All Ireland Final draw against Mayo on September 18th.
And as we all witnessed this past Saturday the players responded with enough intensity and skill to see Dublin retain the Sam Maguire for the first time in nearly four decades.
As for the opening game, many believe it to be the weakest performance of a Dublin side in Jim Gavin’s tenure as manager.
The Dublin manager responded by making some last minute starting changes, leaving Bernard Brogan, Davy Byrne and Michael Darragh MacAuley on the Dublin bench.
All things taken into account, both these decisions and the additional changes made during the game were the difference between the two sides as Gavin certainly won the battle of the sideline over Stephen Rockford.
Philly was keen to express how down in the mouth the Dublin players were and the attention to detail the management put in right from the final whistle in the original fixture.
“We came back to the hotel after the last game and none of us wanted to be there, we just wanted to go home, recover the body and get going for the next day.”
“All the players looked in the mirror. The old saying, ‘Look in the mirror instead of looking out the window’, so a lot of lads did that and we’re just lucky that we had a chance and didn’t have to wait 12 months to get going again.”
No stone was left unturned as the Dublin manager and staff set to prepare for the return fixture. Many say Dublin, like in the drawn semi final last year, had more to take from the game then their opponents, who to their credit put Dublin under an immense amount of pressure and were indeed worthy of their place in both games.
“The management team and the backroom team were immense over the last two weeks.”
“They try and support us in any way and one thing they do support is on is the environment that we’re in. The talk that goes around that environment as well and that helped us massively.”
Comparing both games, there was certainly something missing from Dublin’s game plan the first time of asking. There seemed to be a lack of the fighting spirit we’ve all come to appreciate. And Philly can certainly attest to that.
“I think the one thing that we didn’t do well in the first game is that the intensity levels were poor, our tackling was poor.”
“Our physicality, that is one of our traits, was poor so if we upped that then complacency wouldn’t be there. Especially from the forwards, you see the amount of tackles they got in [Saturday].
“That’s probably where we matched Mayo a little bit better.”
The mindset of winning two Championships in a row has been the question on everyones lips since the start of the provincial campaign this year and to their credit, all the Dublin players kept their answers to themselves and focused on the short term and not the long. And now that the task has been achieved I don’t think you’d be able to stop any of them let their feelings known.
“Now that we’ve won it, it’s an amazing thing to say, that you’ve done back-to-back.” he proclaimed
“It’s a really good feeling.”
“I’m one of the lads that don’t drink so it’s probably sunk in more for me than the lads. The only thing that’s sunk in is alcohol at the minute!”