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MacAuley feels fan frustration

DUBLIN may be a team in transition but one of their new recruits, Michael Darragh Macauley, can understand the impatience of Hill 16 for instant success -- because until very recently he was one of them.

"I was a Dublin fan as well. You want Sam Maguire every year, there's no two ways about that," Macauley told the Evening Herald ahead of this evening's make-or-break qualifier against Armagh in Croke Park (5.0).

"I can understand where they're coming from.

"It is a team in transition, and there are young players coming through, but hopefully this year we can push on now with a bit of momentum."

The Ballyboden St Enda's clubman will be making only his second SFC start in the Dublin engine-room, fresh from two cameos in Leinster and then a goalscoring full debut against Tipperary. Yet while he "always dreamed of playing midfield for Dublin in Croke Park", only 22,084 were there to witness the event last Saturday.

The team laboured for long spells in the rain before emerging with an eight-point victory -- Macauley fully expects a far stiffer battle against Armagh, and hopefully in front of a bigger crowd too. "I think the Tipperary match was an exception, with the weather being so miserable, Oxegen, the poor performance the last day -- just everything combined," the 23-year-old reflected.

"Against Meath there was no point in calling for a ball -- people can't hear you. But it was nearly silent (against Tipp), you could nearly hear a pin drop out there, apart from the rain.

"So it made a difference for communicating, big time. We play practice games out here (in DCU) when you're not allowed speak -- to try and reflect Croke Park. But, sure, it wasn't like that against Tipperary at all."

The consensus view is that Dublin must step it up or face painful All-Ireland elimination tonight. Macauley doesn't dispute the theory.

"We should have been a lot more ruthless," he said of the Tipp performance. "We had them on the ropes and we didn't knock them out. We have to step it up a gear now for Armagh."

Dublin's new midfield dynamo pinpointed the "unbelievable" form of Steven McDonnell as the biggest threat to a potential watershed victory for the Blues.

"It's gas, I remember he coached me back when I was a minor. He took me for a session (at Ballyboden), and it will feel strange now going out against him. We're going to have to curb his influence if we want a chance," he concluded.