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Jim Gavin: 'We gave conclusive evidence that the ball was struck first and it was just an accidental hit'

Dublin defender John Small was suspended for Saturday’s game with Donegal.

DUBLIN MARCHED ON with a victory in their Super 8s opener against Donegal on Saturday night, with the win achieved minus the services of defender John Small.

The Ballymun Kickhams man was forced to watch on in Croke Park after being sent-off late on in the Leinster final against Laois.

Barry Cassidy shows John Small a red card John Small was dismissed in the Leinster football decider against Laois. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Small’s suspension was upheld last week with the CHC upholding the decision of the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee as the All-Ireland winner was sanctioned for ‘striking with hand’.

But manager Jim Gavin expressed his disappointment with the decision, insisting it was ‘an accidental hit’.

“Yeah, he hit the ball,” replied Gavin, when asked after Saturday’s game whether he expected Small’s suspension to be overturned.

“He hit the ball first, we gave conclusive evidence that the ball was struck first and it was just an accidental hit.

“These things happen in a contact sport, so yeah (I’m) very disappointed with that one.”

John Small after being sent off Jim Gavin with John Small after he was sent-off in the Leinster final. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Dublin made a series of pre-match alterations to their defence on Saturday night with Philly McMahon, Eric Lowndes and Paddy Andrews withdrawn, as Eoin Murchan, Cian O’Sullivan and Jack McCaffrey were late inclusions.

Lowndes came on as a substitute in the 62nd minute but McMahon and Andrews did not enter the fray.

“Just tactical decisions we made, simple as that,” stated Gavin.

“Both (McMahon and Andrews) were fit, yeah. We controlled the game well particularly the last 10 or 15 minutes. I think the team finished it really well, the substitutes that came on all played their part and brought something to the game and gave us a new impetus.

“I thought we closed it out very well and in this format it is all about coming away with the two points at this stage of it. To that end we are satisfied.”

Ryan McHugh and Eoin Murchan Eoin Murchan in action for Dublin against Donegal on Saturday night. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Tyrone loom large now in Dublin’s view as they get set to journey to Healy Park next Saturday night.

“It’s a fantastic game, a fantastic opportunity to go to Omagh, we’ve always got a really warm welcome from the Tyrone people,” said Gavin.

“The games have been really competitive for the last couple of seasons and we expect this will be nothing less. Obviously we met this time last year, I know Tyrone were disappointed with their performance and I’m sure they’ll look to right that next Saturday.

“They are putting up big big scores now – 7-44 is an impressive tally in two games no matter what. And it’s in championship above all things. It’s going to be a cracking game.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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