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Dublin: 9°C Monday 8 March 2021

Third quarter pinpointed by Dublin boss Gavin as central to league final loss

Dublin’s five-in-a-row bid was foiled today at Croke Park.

Dejected Dublin players at the final whistle.
Dejected Dublin players at the final whistle.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

DUBLIN WENT IN at half-time of today’s Allianz football league final against Kerry, gripping a 0-10 to 0-9 lead.

They looked poised to kick on in the second half, as they have done so often previously in an imperious fashion during Jim Gavin’s reign.

But instead Dublin’s play became ragged after half-time as they shipped six points without reply and by the time Paul Mannion kicked a great individual point in the 53rd minute, Kerry had surged 0-15 to 0-10 ahead.

Dublin boss Gavin had no qualms in honing in on that period of play proving to be Dublin’s downfall.

“I’m disappointed with that performance, too many unforced errors. (We) gave the ball away too much.

“The third quarter of the game, we kicked an awful lot of the ball away. We had enough of it. Some great defensive play and we worked the ball up the field, and just turned it over needlessly.

“Kicked it away, hand-passed it away – very uncharacteristic. But it certainly punished us, and put us in a very tough position going down the stretch, five points down.

“I thought they showed great heart again, great resilience to come back and be within the width of a post to put the game into extra-time, a long-range free from Dean.

“And we had a bit of momentum at that stage, but unfortunately this time a little bit too late.”

Gavin tipped his hat in praise of their opponents.

“All credit to Kerry. Their score execution was very good there today. They got some great points and fully deserved the win, so hats off to them.

“Kerry/Dublin games are very demanding and a national final, a cup on the table to be won. So we knew it was going to be a very tense game, which it turned out to be.

“You couldn’t fault the preparations. Team selection? Absolutely, that’s my responsibility and we’d have to have a look at that – did we start the right players and bring the right players in?

“But I thought the boys who finished the game had great heart and desire, and again I couldn’t question their resilience again there today – just a little bit too late.”

The defeat ends a 36-game unbeaten run Dublin have been on since they fell in Killarney in March 2015. Gavin dismissed suggestions that talk of the record had hung over them.

“No, it’s never been spoken about by the players. Obviously people outside talk about it, but we’ve always been focussed upon each game that we play.

“It wasn’t being spoken about a couple of months ago, and then it just popped up. It hasn’t been referenced at all.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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