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Dublin not focused on 'negative energy' of revenge for 2014 and expecting a Donegal curveball

Jim Gavin is getting his side for another battle with the Ulster side.

Jim Gavin shakes hands with Neil Gallagher after the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final
Jim Gavin shakes hands with Neil Gallagher after the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IT’S THE SOLITARY black mark in the championship for Jim Gavin.

The Dublin manager’s record in high summer since taking charge makes for impressive reading.

He’s in the midst of his fourth season and has overseen 21 games for Dublin in championship.

Wins have been the dominant feature, 19 of them packed into the Gavin tenure and while they were pegged back for a draw last August by Mayo for a draw, they made amends six days later at the second time of asking.

The one blot on their copybook is 31 August 2014, the day Jim McGuinness devised a strategy that enabled Donegal strike down a hitherto unstoppable side.

Dublin renew acquaintances with Donegal next Saturday. They will ride into that All-Ireland quarter-final carrying the mantle of favorites yet Gavin doesn’t subscribe to the theory that there are scores to settle.

“That wouldn’t be the culture now, that kind of negative energy, we would be very much espousing the positives.

“What is in the past is in the past, we have never anchored ourselves in the past and that including the games that we have won.

“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.”

Bernard Brogan reacts to a missed chance A dejected Bernard Brogan after the 2014 encounter Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Alan Brogan dejected Alan Brogan shows his disappointment after the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The Dublin manager regularly preaches the importance of absorbing lessons. He accepts that 2014 semi-final may stick more prominently in the minds of his players.

“I think players might look at it that way. Obviously there’s an emotional element when you lose a championship game. As a player, experiencing that, it’s not a nice feeling.

“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.

“So 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.”

And Gavin will be facing down a different bainisteoir on the sideline. He suspects Rory Gallagher will throw a curveball at his team.

“We expect something innovative from him on Saturday. He is just a very astute coach. They did what they had to do in the league to get their Division 1 status.

“They have been there for many years and (I) think their focus was on the Ulster championship and getting a good run there.

“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.”

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Paul Kerrigan scores the first goal of the game A Paul Kerrigan goal for Cork didn't stop Donegal from triumphing last Saturday Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Patrick McBrearty commanded the headlines with a glittering attacking display last Saturday for Donegal against Cork. His display overshadowed Donegal’s totem Michael Murphy, yet he will be a critical influence in shaping next Saturday’s game.

Where Donegal deploy him – in the midfield battle or in the attacking danger area – will be interesting.

“I think he’s very effective there,” says Gavin.

“Going back to 2010 and the U21 All-Ireland Final, he’s an outstanding forward, I’ve seen him close up with DCU over the years with Sigerson Football, he’s an outstanding full-forward. An outstanding forward in general.

“But I can understand why teams might use him in midfield. He’s got high levels of game intelligence he’s techncially an excellent player, very physical, great ball-winner, a great leader for them.

“So he’s demonstrated he can play anywhere and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him either playing in the middle of the park or in the full-forward line. He’s that good.”

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Analysis: Mayo turnovers, Andy Moran is key, shaky Donegal defending, McBrearty’s vital role

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Fintan O'Toole

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