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‘Dublin are going well and will be in the mix’ – Michael Darragh Macauley

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NEIC Community Sport & Wellness co-ordinator and former Dublin football Michael Darragh Macauley poses for a portrait at the Football for Unity festival launch at Richmond Park in Dublin. The six-week festival, organised by SARI and Dublin NEIC, will once again showcase the potential of football as an educational tool which can bring communities together and promote social inclusion for newcomers to Ireland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

NEIC Community Sport & Wellness co-ordinator and former Dublin football Michael Darragh Macauley poses for a portrait at the Football for Unity festival launch at Richmond Park in Dublin. The six-week festival, organised by SARI and Dublin NEIC, will once again showcase the potential of football as an educational tool which can bring communities together and promote social inclusion for newcomers to Ireland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

NEIC Community Sport & Wellness co-ordinator and former Dublin football Michael Darragh Macauley poses for a portrait at the Football for Unity festival launch at Richmond Park in Dublin. The six-week festival, organised by SARI and Dublin NEIC, will once again showcase the potential of football as an educational tool which can bring communities together and promote social inclusion for newcomers to Ireland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The morning after the night before on the Emmet Road. A Dublin derby win for Pat’s against Bohs.

A house near the ground has a sign on the door: ‘Beware of the Shih Tzu.’

Walking into the home of St Patrick’s Athletic is like walking into a regular terraced house on a busy street. In through the front door, down the hall and out the back door. And there it is, Richmond Park. The compact, cosy stadium. Gordon Banks played here. And made a wonder save from Eamon Dunphy.

The man with the basketball hands, Michael Darragh Macauley, takes a seat in the empty stand. There are people tending to the pitch and tidying up the terraces.

He’ll be in a bigger home on Saturday. Leinster final day. He has an earlier morning appointment. He’s doing the Bord Gáis Energy Legends Tour of Croke Park (11am).

“It should be good fun. I had so many good days there. I’ll be sharing a few of those stories.”

Later on, he’ll watch the Dubs against Kildare. “I’m enjoying going to the games. Some of my best friends are still playing, so I’ll always keep an eye on things.

“It’s still early days for Dessie (Farrell) as manager. He’s giving plenty of lads a chance, and that’s good to see coming into the summer. Dublin are going well. And I think they will be in the mix. I don’t know much about Kildare, but a Leinster final is a Leinster final. I’m sure Kildare will be ready to brew up a storm, so it’s a question of Dublin being ready for it.”

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He has been impressed with a man that operates in the engine room he knows so well – the Dublin midfield.

“Tom (Lahiff) is playing excellently. He’s probably underrated in that he doesn’t get the headlines for scoring points. But he’s doing the job Dublin need him to do. And he’s doing it very well.He’s very mobile. He’s very efficient in getting around the pitch. And he’s proving a good ally for Brian Fenton.”

Macauley stepped away from the Dubs in January, 2021. He’s since gone on a six-month World Tour.

It’s something he couldn’t have managed when he was with the county. “There’s always pros and cons when you are playing for Dublin,” he reflects. “And for me, the pros always outweigh the cons.

“One of the things I missed out on over the years was travelling away with my friends, but you accept those things. And playing for the county was such a positive thing for me. I wouldn’t change it.”

He is in Inchicore to promote the Football for Unity Festival. He wears his heart on his sleeve. Sport, and the planet, is for all. Live and let live.

“Things are improving, but there’s still a way to go,” he declares. “It’s one of those things that won’t happen overnight. But the more visibility and messaging around the issue the better. It’s all about allowing people to become more comfortable and push forward.”

In the county jersey, he excelled at pushing forward himself. And he’s hoping the Dubs can keep marching on.

Football For Unity 2022 festival, hosted by Sport Against Racism Ireland and the Dublin North East Inner City initiative, takes place on June 6 to July 15. For details, or to register a team, log on to www.footballforunity.ie


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