Cahill confident Dubs can grasp redemption shot with both hands
CROKE Park has been a house of pain for Barry Cahill in All-Ireland semi-finals, but now he has a chance at redemption with the Dubs against Donegal.
Four times Cahill and the boys in blue have reached the penultimate stage of the championship, but on each occasion they lost out narrowly.
And though Pat Gilroy's regime has resulted in changes of personnel and playing style, Cahill is glad that he stayed on the journey with Dublin.
He could have joined other players from his era, such as Ciaran Whelan and Shane Ryan, who quit inter-county football as the manager's new approach evolved.
Indeed, Cahill (below) faced increased competition for a starting place over the last two seasons, particularly in the half-back line, but now the St Brigid's clubman has got his reward with a place in the team to face Donegal at Croke Park tomorrow.
Selection justifies Cahill's patience and tenacity, and highlights his versatility, as the defender-turned-attacker was named at centre half-forward.
Speaking yesterday, Cahill revealed that hunger for success drives him on to keep playing at the top level.
The only positions he hasn't played for Dublin is goalkeeper and in the full-forward line.
"I wasn't tempted to quit. There has always been a bit of frustration there particularly with some of the results that we've had at certain times, but I've never given any indication that I was ready to give it up," he said.
"Now that I've reached 30 and got married people think you're on the way out, but I still think that I've got a bit left in me.
"I suppose everyone makes their own decisions, and there comes a time when it's right to head off, but I'm not at that stage yet.
"The hunger has always been there. Playing for Dublin is a great incentive, because you know you'll be playing in front of big crowds every summer, and there's always a good chance of reaching or winning an All-Ireland final.
"Now that we're at this stage on Sunday, we're hoping we don't leave it behind us."
Armagh (2002), Mayo (2006), Kerry (2007) and Cork last year made Dublin the nearly men in semi-finals in Cahill's time with the Dubs, but this time he fervently hopes the result will go their way.
"I've played in four semi-finals and lost three of them by one point and one of them by two points. So, not the best record in semi-finals. In fairness, we probably weren't good enough in a couple of those matches and the other two we threw away.
"There would be a lot of hurt there down through the years because of those narrow losses. Some of those games are known as classics, but you don't want to be on the wrong end of the result in those sorts of matches.
"You'd much prefer to win ugly on Sunday by a point, once you come out on the right side of it. A few of us have been involved in disappointing semi-finals, so motivation won't be lacking on Sunday, but you could say the same about Donegal. They've a big incentive too," added Cahill.
Michael Darragh Macauley represents the younger brigade, but after the 2010 disappointment against Cork, the big midfielder appreciates the challenge facing Dublin.
"We'll have our work cut out against these boys. They get back in numbers, I think we all know that," said Macauley.
"But I think the (Donegal) lads themselves aren't getting enough credit to be honest. They play a system, which we all know about, but they have some fantastic individuals playing that system.
"The likes of Cassidy, Murphy, Lacey and McFadden are super individuals and I don't think enough people give them credit.
"We know what to expect, we know we won't get anything easy. Absolutely nothing is taken for granted and we're getting ready for warfare on Sunday."
Team manager Pat Gilroy was happy to name the same starting line-up he fielded against Tyrone in the semi-final.
Twelve months on from the one-point loss to Cork, Gilroy admits lessons have been learned by the mentors on the sideline in terms of team performance and their own job on the sideline.
"I think there's a number of things that happened in that last 20 minutes against Cork that we've been working on," he added.
"Probably the most significant one was our concession of frees in scoreable positions. We've done a lot of work on that this year and we've probably halved the rate on average of conceded frees in our own half.
"In the league final, for sure, we made mistakes on the line. We've learned from that."