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Jim Gavin refutes the notion that Dublin players don't work full-time jobs

Journal.ie logo Journal.ie 12/09/2017 Kevin O'Brien
© Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

FOLLOWING DUBLIN’S DEMOLITION of Tyrone in last month’s All-Ireland semi-final, Sean Cavanagh was in a dispirited mood.

It was Cavanagh’s last ever game in a Tyrone jersey and while the Red Hand were expected to put up a decent fight against Jim Gavin’s side, they were simply blown away by a tactical masterclass.

Shortly after the 12-point defeat, the Moy star was asked for his thoughts on why the champions appear to be so far ahead of the chasing pack.

“I don’t understand how Dublin are so far ahead because in Tyrone we have given everything and I mean everything; in the gym, on the pitch – we have literally hurt our bodies every single night,” he told Newstalk. “We have gone out for nine, 10, 11 months and that still isn’t good enough.

“I believe we have some incredibly skilled players. I don’t know how the game can go to any more time commitment for players, it’s incredibly hard for players. I just don’t know where the game goes, how much more professional it can become.

“Obviously, Dublin are way ahead and I have no idea how they are able to do it. To try and do a 40-hour-a-week job and just be blown away from another team who… and maybe they aren’t doing 40-hour-a-week jobs similar to what other counties are, maybe that’s one of the reasons they’re so far ahead.”

© Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

But Cavanagh’s claims are misguided according to Dublin manager Gavin. Demands on inter-county players may be increasing, but he says his players are highly committed to their work lives too.

“If anything, we place a big emphasis on players getting that continued professional development,” says Gavin. “That’s part of their job. Sometimes they miss training because of it.

“I mentioned the academic cycle (earlier). We insist on players passing exams on the first go. So we’ll give them time off for that.

“And I think when you look at the profile of the players we’ve got now, we’ve got two medical students in Mick Fitz (Michael Fitzsimons) and Jack (McCaffrey). A few other players are still in college but most of them are in solid professional jobs.

“The reality of it is at inter-county level, they’re all volunteering their time. I suppose we’re very fortunate to have employers who understand the benefits of an inter-county player in their workforce because of the discipline in sticking to a routine and being able to work in a team dynamic.

“But we don’t place any undue demand on players on a Monday to Friday.”

Paul Flynn of Dublin in action against Ronan McNamee of Tyrone during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final © Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile Paul Flynn of Dublin in action against Ronan McNamee of Tyrone during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final

Speaking with us back in April, wing-forward Paul Flynn also refuted the idea that’s often pedaled in public: the Dublin squad are full-time athletes.

“I don’t really listen to it because I know it’s not true,” said Flynn. “I’m a director in a recruitment firm in town.

“There’s a number of lads on our team who are fairly well committed to their jobs and very serious jobs. There’s flexibility afforded in some capacity, but you’ve got to be able to perform in your job.

“The job I’m in is very much a sales and commercial role. So I’ve got to be able to perform and it’s pretty black and white whether you’re performing or not. I’m director of the company now so I’m very involved in ensuring we grow and we do well. There’s a number of players there like that too. It’s vitally important that all players in all teams concentrate on their career as well as what goes on on the pitch.

“From the ages of 20 to 30 that’s the most important part of your playing career, but it’s also the most important part in the development of your career off the pitch. So you have to be able to keep an eye on both of them at the same time.”

Cavanagh may be onto something though. Being based in the capital, the Dublin squad avoid the sort of cross-country treks for training that are commonplace for most other inter-county players.

© Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile For example, Cavanagh’s former teammate Tiernan McCann is a pharmacist based in north Dublin suburb Santry, and endures a four-hour round-trip to make it back for collective sessions multiple times per week.

McCann works on a locum basis, and during the championship he generally tries to avoid working the same day as Tyrone are training to ease the time pressure.

Then you take Dublin’s opponents on Sunday, Mayo. Ten members of Stephen Rochford’s panel currently work or study in Dublin: Tom Parsons, Seamie O’Shea, Jason Doherty, Chris Barrett, Rob Hennelly, Conor Loftus, Stephen Coen, Paddy Durcan, Conor O’Shea and Diarmuid O’Connor.

For Mayo’s All-Ireland final press night a couple of weeks ago, Parsons gave an interview from his Dublin base with the assembled journalists in Breaffy gathered around a mobile phone.

The Charlestown Sarsfields midfielder wanted to avoid adding another time-consuming trip to his already hectic schedule. It’s the sort of headache Dublin never have to face.

That’s where their real advantage lies. Cavanagh wasn’t too far off the mark.


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