'Boden benefit from Michael Darragh Macauley battery boost
Club reaping dividends from Dublin midfielder's extended spring break
Published 01/12/2015 | 02:30
An extended break at the beginning of this year that took him out of the first five league matches didn't exactly go to plan for Michael Darragh Macauley but the Dublin midfielder is reaping the benefits now.
Macauley has been a powerhouse for Ballyboden St Enda's en route to their first Leinster football final as they picked off some of the city's top teams, Kilmacud Crokes, St Oliver Plunkett's and St Vincent's in the final.
The inter-county season may not have "gone to plan" for him personally, as he admitted himself, but his club have welcomed him back fresh from the fatigue and niggling injury that eventually ran him down in 2014.
"My body does definitely (feel benefit) because if I had played as I played in 2014 in terms of games where I played every single game and was still going, it probably would have taken its toll.
"My body feels 100 per cent at the moment. I suppose the way it worked out with Dublin it didn't benefit it me in terms of my inter-county career because things didn't go to plan, missing the league. But in terms of my physical health at the moment, it has stood to me."
Essentially, Macauley never managed to properly catch up despite his influence against Mayo and Kerry off the bench.
"I was a little bit late getting to the pitch of things, that's down to match practice. I just missed too many games at the start of the year, it's really hard to make up for that. I know now there are plenty of lads who are injured, going to miss a few matches coming into the start of next year, they really have to be on the ball to make sure they are sharp come championship time."
He admitted his enjoyment of a third All-Ireland win was slightly compromised by the role he played.
"It probably was, to be honest. I featured strongly in Dublin's last two All-Irelands in 2011 and 2013. As every player does, I wanted to play every minute of every game.
"The championship that I foresaw for myself wasn't how it played out. And to that extent, I have absolutely no regrets.
"I put in a monstrous amount of effort to get myself right. And I had my body right. I was really looking forward to the back end of the championship but things didn't go my way.
"In saying that, an All-Ireland is an All-Ireland. I know how hard they are to come by. I still enjoyed this one as much as the other two but it was different. I definitely would hope that my inter-county career hasn't peaked, or nowhere near it."
He wasn't comfortable as a substitute, nor should Dublin have expected him to be, he insists.
"We don't want anyone on the Dublin team or the Ballyboden team who is happy to get a jersey and coming to the game on the bus. We need lads who are dying to get into that starting 15 and make an impact. You just can't hand that comfort among substitutes.
"It just makes for an unhealthy atmosphere. You need players slitting each other's throats to get a jersey. Obviously in the fairest of ways.
"And that comes down to training sessions as well. If I have a midfield jersey in Ballyboden, I expect lads to be killing me to try and take the jersey.
"It's only when you get that ruthlessly competitive atmosphere that you start to be successful."
With Ballyboden they are finally fulfilling promise evident from the wealth of underage talent they have had at their disposal. They have a huge catchment area in the south-west suburbs but Macauley feels their success is penetrating into the community.
If you go up Firhouse Road there are flags as far as the eye can see. Posters put up on every wall. You are not able to drive down any street without seeing some Ballyboden colours or posters somewhere so everyone has bought into it and there are more and more going to every game. There are bigger bus loads going, people are talking. Every shop you go into, all the talk is about Ballyboden."
The perception that they are essentially a hurling club has also been diluted with a third Dublin title.
"We've been called a hurling club for years. Even the (Dublin) chairman came out to us and gave us a speech after we won the Dublin final and the first thing he said was, 'I thought this was a hurling club'. He said he had his speech planned for St Vincent's that night!
"The hurlers have been fantastic. The good thing is that the dual players play with both. So it's not like with the Dublin team, where they play with one or the other. And in that sense, there probably is a bit of a rivalry. But with Ballyboden everybody is pulling in the same direction."
With Portlaoise reeling off nine successive Laois titles, Macauley believes they are entitled to favouritism, drawing on last weekend's heavyweight title fight to make his point.
"Portlaoise are very experienced when it comes to Leinster. They are the 'Kiltschko', we're like the 'Fury' coming into this. But if you look at last weekend, sometimes Furys can beat the Kiltschkos!"