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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 25 April, 2019

Jim Gavin hails Stephen Cluxton's half-time speech as Dublin book another All-Ireland final

Cluxton and Dublin bounced back from a nightmare spell in the opening half.

DUBLIN BOSS JIM Gavin said Stephen Cluxton didn’t show any signs of frustration after he endured a difficult first-half against Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Kerry went zonal on Cluxton’s kickouts and it paid dividends when Darran O’Sullivan pounced on a chance and found the net. Minutes later Cluxton was beaten to a high ball from an Anthony Maher shot, and the ball bounced over the line.

Stephen Cluxton argues with Referee David Gough after conceding the second goal Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Dublin skipper looked spooked and kicked a couple of kickouts over the sideline, but Gavin says Cluxton was composed in the dressing room at the interval.

“[Any anger] wasn’t demonstrated to me. As a captain he spoke very well at half-time about sticking to our game plan. These things happen.

“We’ve seen that look from them before. They showed a few little looks there today, but we saw the look from them before in the league final, last year as well, and in ’13, so it’s not something that we didn’t expect.

“The way we play our game, we don’t play that denying teams space in defence and that counter attacking style of football. We’re very much in some respects open and vulnerable, we accept that, that’s part of our gameplan.

“We accept that against a team like Kerry they’re going to score against you but we stood through to our values and that’s what saw us home in the end.”

Gavin heaped praise on his players for their reaction after conceding 2-4 in that devastating 10-minute spell before half-time.

“In various players, in the national league, the Championship, previous seasons, there’s been a lot of questions asked of them and, for me, half-time is just a break in play.

“What counts is when the referee blows his final whistle. The team demonstrated great composure at half-time. There was never a sense of anything but a great intentfulness from them.

“They knew what they wanted, they knew what happened, they stayed in control of the situation and I thought they demonstrated that from the first minute all the way through to the very end, that was the pleasing thing about it.”

He paid tribute to Kerry, who’ve been on the receiving end of four straight championship defeats to Dublin.

“It’s a fantastic Kerry team, outstanding management, we have huge, huge admiration for them up in Dublin,” Gavin continued. “That game, we realise it in the Dublin dressing-room, could’ve went either way, bounce of a ball, as we saw in the first-half a goal for us or them and the result could have been very different.

“It was a fantastic test, by a team who play very similar to ourselves, they go out and play football and all the skills of the game were demonstrated today, the physicality we want in our game, some great fielding, kick passing, score taking, great goals and two sets of players, for amateur players to be putting their body on the line.

“It was a great testament to the spirit of our games and I think we have one of the best field sports and it was shown there today.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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