Jim Gavin: Donegal clash will not be a 'defining' game

Updated: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 18:06 | Comments

Jim Gavin is aiming to lead Dublin to back-to-back All-Ireland final appearances for the first time since 1984/85
Jim Gavin is aiming to lead Dublin to back-to-back All-Ireland final appearances for the first time since 1984/85

Dublin football manager Jim Gavin has rejected the notion that Sunday's All-Ireland football semi-final showdown with Donegal is a defining game for Gaelic football.

The sides famously met back in 2011 and while Donegal lost that day, their ultra defensive game plan was subsequently copied by various county and club teams.

Dublin's Sam Maguire win last year, with a free-flowing, attacking team signalled another apparent turning point and a return to a more traditional style of play.

The two contrasting systems will meet each other again on Sunday, and while an All-Ireland final place is the prize, the bigger picture is that the winner may inspire coaches around the country to copy their tactics.

Gavin isn't convinced by that argument though and rejected the idea of it being a defining game.

"Not at all," said Gavin of the sold-out fixture. "Each county has their own culture. That's the great thing about Gaelic football and Gaelic games in general.

"There is no right or wrong way, in my opinion, to set a team up. It's the manager's decision to decide what strategy and what tactics he employs on a given day.

"And he's doing his very best for his community and his county. We've just inherited from people who have gone before us a particular style of football that's played at club level.

"And people expect us to play that at county level. Sometimes we get successful, sometimes we don't."

"There is no right or wrong way, in my opinion, to set a team up"

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has indicated that his team won't be as defensive as they were in 2011 when Dublin won 0-08 to 0-06.

Gavin is taking McGuinness at his word and pointed to the more open encounter between the sides when they last met competitively in the 2013 national league.

"When we played them in Ballybofey that time, they pushed up on us," said Gavin. "That was a really competitive and enjoyable match to be involved in. So they can certainly change their strategies as well.

"The reference point for me would be Donegal's most recent success which is an Ulster title and a very compact game against Armagh where they looked to be in control for most of it and they did what they had to do to win the game." 

Ahead of the semi-final. Gavin stated that they are injury-free, though experienced defender Ger Brennan remains unavailable due to long-term ankle trouble.

The Allianz League and All-Ireland holders are strong favourites to meet Kerry or Mayo in the final having won each of their four games so far by double-digit margins.

McGuinness claimed recently that Dublin enjoy a near professional set-up, likening them to Chelsea under billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.

"I haven't really seen any of those comments, all I know is that Donegal have played really well this year," responded Gavin.

"They've won promotion to Division 1, they've won the Ulster title three out of the last four seasons and are a very experienced team with a lot of youth coming up. So they are a big, big challenge to us.

"We're all volunteers in the Dublin management team," added Gavin at a press briefing.

"I'm heading off to work after this. That's the bedrock of the Association at club level. It's a volunteers organisation, since 1884. That's what makes it great. All I know is that within Dublin we have very competent and intelligent personnel doing the best they can do for Gaelic games."

Pat Spillane on Dublin

Watch Donegal v Dublin live on RTÉ Two television from 1445. Also live on RTÉ Player and worldwide on GAAGO.

Live radio coverage on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday Sport from 1400.

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