# Blue Wave
Dubs flex their muscles, Kerry's room to improve - Monday's football talking points
Plus Tyrone finish their campaign in style.

Updated 12.00pm

1. Gavin proves he has the blueprint to beat Kerry

SUNDAY 24 APRIL. Memorable for Dublin who became the first team since the great Kerry side of the 1970s to win four straight league titles. And for Jim Gavin who collected his ninth major title as Dublin boss out of the 10 available since he took over in 2013.

But perhaps more significant than the silverware was how Dublin reasserted their dominance over Kerry. The Munster team are widely regarded as the biggest threat to Dublin’s bid for back-to-back All-Ireland titles.

[image alt="Paul Flynn celebrates scoring a goal" src="" width="296" height="195" title="" class="aligncenter" /end]

In their eight meetings at Croke Park since the ‘startled earwigs’ defeat in 2009, Dublin have won seven. In their seven games in league or championship since both Jim Gavin and Eamonn Fitzmaurice took over as managers in 2013, Gavin boasts a record of 6-1.

Kerry haven’t even scored a goal against Dublin in their last four meetings.

Whatever way you look at it, the numbers don’t make kind reading for Kerry.

What really rankled with the Kingdom over the winter was their failure to perform in September’s All-Ireland final. They failed to express themselves and that’s not something we’re used to seeing from the green and gold in an All-Ireland final. Losing a big game can happen, but freezing on the big day is unacceptable for the country’s most successful county.

They’d have looked at this game as a chance to right that wrong and prove they can beat this all-conquering Dublin side. But the reality is that Dublin have the template to beat Kerry and Fitzmaurice appears no closer to cracking that code.

Kerry were not long back from a team holiday when they were brushed aside by Dublin on opening night in January, but yesterday’s league final had a far more significant feel to it. From the outside looking in, it appeared Kerry needed this win far more than Dublin.

In the end Gavin’s troops were just too good all over the field. It’s back to the drawing board for Kerry.

There’s no need to press the panic button in April, but continuously getting beaten by Dublin can’t sit well with Fitzmaurice or his players.


[image alt="Marc O'Se after the game" src="" width="296" height="215" title="" class="aligncenter" /end]

2. Kerry left picking up the pieces

On the back of an impressive league campaign, Kerry will be desperately disappointed to go out with an 11-point hiding to their old rivals.

The roof fell in on Kerry in the second-half.

Kieran Donaghy was isolated at full-forward, and his team delivered aimless ball into him which the Dublin defence mopped up with ease. As soon as he saw Donaghy move inside, Cian O’Sullivan placed himself right in front of the Austin Stacks man and snuffed out his threat.

Donaghy finds it very difficult to win a free from referees due to his sheer size, but that’s another matter.

Aidan O’Mahony’s red card appeared to be an act of frustration, but losing his cool right in front of the referee was inexplicable for such an experienced player. Had he stayed on the field it wouldn’t have changed the result, but it might have prevented Dublin from pulling away in the final quarter.

O’Mahony didn’t finish the All-Ireland final loss to Dublin on the field either after his black card.

On the plus side, Kerry have a lot of time to take a look at this game and look at areas they can improve.

Tommy Walsh and Paul Geaney would certainly feel they could add something, while James O’Donoghue will be a massive boost on his return.

The big question is can Kerry close that 11-point gap before these sides meet again in late summer?


[image alt="Philip McMahon and Colm Cooper" src="" width="296" height="211" title="" class="aligncenter" /end]

3. Dublin’s period of sloppiness

For a curious spell in the second half, Dublin looked almost human. During a particularly wasteful 15-minute spell in the third quarter, they allowed Kerry edge back to within a point.

At least half a dozen Dublin attacks broke down without a score as the All-Ireland champions dallied on possession and needlessly gave the ball away.

Diarmuid Connolly and Philly McMahon were guilty of losing possession on a couple of occasions as Dublin’s concentration levels dropped. Mick Deegan, a member of Gavin’s backroom team ran onto the field and spoke to McMahon. Connolly was whipped off on 54 minutes.

Gavin has the blueprint and if you’re not doing your stuff, he’ll bring on someone who will. He often speaks about finishing with his strongest team on the field, rather than starting with it. His substitutes not only maintain the standard but they add to it.

During the second half, Cormac Costello should have slipped a ball to a blue jersey but he went on his own and lost possession. He was told in no uncertain terms by his teammates that he should have passed it. In the next attack, Costello took the right option by laying the ball off, and he ended up receiving a return pass and firing over.

Gavin constantly drills the importance of Dublin being a ‘selfless’ team.

“It is all about the process of being the best we can be,” he said after the game.

“When we are representing our county we want to be the best that we can be.  They are a very focused group of men.  They demonstrate a selflessness week in, week out for their county.”

Those couple of incidents in the second half highlighted why Dublin are well ahead of the chasing pack.


[image alt="Ronan McNamee and Rory Brennan celebrate" src="" width="296" height="192" title="" class="aligncenter" /end]

4. Tyrone conclude spring campaign in style

Tyrone remain unbeaten after securing their sixth competitive win of the season. Mickey Harte’s team did what they had to, but they’ll face far sterner tests than they have done so far in 2016.

A winning habit is hard to beat and Tyrone are playing an enjoyable brand of football. The Division 2 final is usually an entertaining affair, as the priority target of promotion to the top flight is already wrapped up. That left both teams to play without any sort of pressure, and it showed on the pitch.

Tyrone’s transition play remains excellent, as demonstrated by flying wing-back Tiernan McCann who deservedly won man of the match.

Harte was afforded the luxury of withdrawing Conor McAliskey and Ronan O’Neill, scorers of 1-8 between them, 10 minutes before the end. That signalled that Harte has one eye on the first round of the Ulster championship in four weeks.

They’ve already beaten Derry four times this year, but all that work will count for nothing if they don’t make it five wins from five against the Oak Leafers next month.


[image alt="Mark Bradley and Killian Brady" src="" width="296" height="350" title="" class="aligncenter" /end]

5. Cavan moving in the right direction

The defeat to Tyrone is all part of Cavan’s learning curve. Terry Hyland’s charges are into Division 1 next year and they head into the Ulster championship in a few weeks with a talented young side.

They’ll benefit from experiencing Croke Park in a big game. Hyland’s team has a strength in depth that they haven’t had in the past. Like Roscommon, Cavan is a county that has its underage structures right with a conveyor belt of talented minors and U21s coming through.

There’s no quick fix to bridging the gap to the top bracket of teams, but Cavan are quietly going about it in the correct manner.

With Armagh facing them in the quarter-final, they could get another crack at Tyrone in the Ulster semi-final. A fascinating championship awaits in the northern province.


[image alt="Sean Cavanagh celebrates after scoring a point" src="" width="296" height="207" title="" class="aligncenter" /end]

6. Old warhorse delivers again

A word on Sean Cavanagh, who lifted the second tier trophy on his 100th league appearance for Tyrone yesterday. His warm embrace with his manager after the game showed the close bond they share.

Cavanagh is doing everything he can to pass on the baton to the younger players in the squad. He kicked three excellent points from play to lead the Red Hand to victory.

Harte is blessed that his old warhorse is still putting in big performances.

A league of their own! Dublin punish 14-man Kerry to claim four-in-a-row

O’Neill goal clinches Division 2 title for impressive Tyrone

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