Dick Clerkin on why Dublin's bench makes the difference for Jim Gavin

Monaghan are looking to bring an end to Dublin's unbeaten run this weekend

BY Cian Roche 14:38 Friday 31 March 2017, 14:38 31 Mar 2017

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

With the game all but won last week against Roscommon, Jim Gavin looked to his bench in the second half to see where he could tweak his squad.

Dublin took an 11-point lead in with them at the break and their starting XV looked as clinical as ever, admittedly against a Roscommon side already relegated from Division 1.

What made the second half stand out so much was the fact that Gavin decided to spring former Player of the Year Jack McCaffrey from the bench. Darren Daly made way as McCaffrey entered the fold and Gavin looked over his bench once again.

In an almost unmerciful act, the Dublin boss then brought on another former Player of the Year in Micahel Darragh Macauley.

And between those two changes, Diarmuid Connolly was welcomed back into the fold.

The quality at Jim Gavin's disposal, not only in his starting XV, but in the calibre of player he can bring off the bench has really set his side apart from the rest.

"There are two things I would say on this and not many people would say it when it comes to Dublin’s bench," Dick Clerkin tells Newstalk.com.

"It’s the quality coming off the bench, but equally, when lads are coming off the bench, they come off it in the right frame of mind.

"For the management team that’s not an easy task. People just see when they see a man coming off the bench, they look at his CV and his experience and take it as a given.

"If that man is not in the right frame of mind, he’s sitting on the bench and he’s pissed off or feels that he should be starting, very often he won’t do very much for you.

"There’s an ethos and a culture in that Dublin team that if you don’t make the starting XV, fair enough. But when you do come in, you’re there to do a job. They’re usually in the right frame of mind and that’s why they’re generally so effective when they come in.

"They’re not coming in to try make a point or prove someone wrong. They come in to do a job and totally accept that decision.

"That’s a massive thing. I had to learn toward the end of my career it does take a while to accept that. Footballers of the Year shouldn’t like sitting on the bench.

"Jim Gavin thinks otherwise and puts no sort of credence on previous CVs. It’s based on that given day. Yes it’s the quality but also the frame of mind that those players have when players are coming off the bench."


Diarmuid Connolly was introduced during Dublin's victory over Roscommon last weekend. Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Monaghan will be tasked with attempting to stop Dublin's unbeaten streak this weekend and Clerkin is confident that while they are the best team in the country, the time when a side will defeat them is coming soon.

"I think they’re a very good team. Are they as good as people say there are? Well, yes.

"You can’t dismiss the results. They’re going for three-in-a-row and have won so many games in a row. There’s no point in trying to talk that down.

"I think there’s an awful lot to be admired about them. Putting aside the obvious advantage they have in resources and finances, how they play as a team and conduct themselves as individuals, there’s an awful lot teams could take from that.

"I think that, as much as anything, has contributed to their success more than any advantage they have in finances or resources.

"I don’t think they’ll always have what they have at the minute, because a lot of that is to do with people involved, be it Jim Gavin or the current players and the culture within the squad.

"There’s a huge amount to be admired about that. So are they as good as people say they are? Yes they are, until teams can prove otherwise or do what they have achieved.

"At the same time, there’s a lot of signs showing that teams are getting that bit closer and maybe that’s to do with Dublin’s more experienced players. There’s only so long you can be so good.

"Personally I think while a lot of the players coming through are quality players, I’m not sure they can fill the boots of the players at the latter stages of their careers and some who have departed.

"Players like Alan Brogan who are once in a generation players. I think the day that Dublin are beaten is coming very close. It’s very easy saying that since a team still has to go out and do it, I’m just hoping Sunday will be the start of that."

Both Mayo and Kerry have brought a physical approach into trying to stop Dublin playing to their strengths and Clerkin feels that Monaghan also have that attribute in their locker.

"When we played them in the League last year and in the League semi-final the year before, they ran them to within a point. If things had gone differently, we could have overturned them.

"Monaghan bring that kind of game anyway. The high intensity, physical game. There’s no getting away from that approach - it reaps rewards.

"But you have to have the discipline and the ability to do it for 70 minutes required. That’s where Dublin still have the edge.

"Due to the strength of their bench, Dublin can maintain a certain level right throughout the 70 minutes. Other teams just can’t do that. That’s why in the closing stages Dublin tend to have that wee bit more."

The sides meet in Clones this Sunday, throw-in at 2pm.


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