Friday 27 April 2018

Dubs ace Macauley hits back at McGuinness for his appliance of science jibe

Dublin star Michael Darragh Macauley at the launch of the Moro GAA bar competition in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Dublin star Michael Darragh Macauley at the launch of the Moro GAA bar competition in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Sorry Jim, but the appliance of science isn't the sole secret of Dublin's success.

That's the response of All Star midfielder Michael Darragh Macauley to Donegal boss Jim McGuinness' view that the Dubs are away ahead of the rest in terms of sports science, coaching, and conditioning.

McGuinness claimed that Dublin's success over the last few years was similar to the arrival of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, and that they had taken sports science to a new level of professionalism.

Macauley, a two-time All-Ireland winner, doesn't see it that way.

"It's the first I've heard of it. I'm not really sure about that," he said.

"From playing college ball, I would have got some insight into a lot of the other counties around the country and, from what I can see, it's very similar.

"When I initially came into the Dublin set-up (in 2010), I thought we were way past everybody else - but then I realised that everyone shares the same strength and conditioning coaching, shares the same techniques.

"A lot of the facilities have been a lot better, in different counties where we've been.

"So I wouldn't agree with those comments. As regards the facilities and coaches, I think it's pretty much a level playing field - honestly I believe that at the moment."

Macauley arrived on the Dublin senior scene at the right time as first Pat Gilroy in 2011, and then Jim Gavin last year, came up with a winning formula.

But the Ballyboden St Enda's midfielder is mindful that there was nothing sudden about this seeming 'overnight' success.

Prior to 2011, Dublin had failed to win an All-Ireland title since the team of 1995 brought the Sam Maguire Cup to the capital.

In turn, that 17-year gap was preceded by 12 years between the 1983 and '95 triumphs.

Now Dublin fans are basking in two All-Ireland titles in three years, with Donegal blocking the way to a another final appearance.

"Look it, Dublin have got their underage structures right over the last while and I suppose it's maybe a product of that, which has come through at the moment," said Macauley.

"It's not really any big secret that we've been successful underage, and those lads are starting to come through now at senior level.

"It's been a long time coming for Dublin, but thankfully at the moment football is in a healthy place."

McGuinness was right in one respect about the knock-on effect when he observed that "every kid in the city wants to be the next Bernard Brogan".

There's no question that the glamour and the excitement surrounding the Dublin footballers is a powerful incentive for youngsters to take GAA seriously, despite the inevitable competition offered by soccer and rugby.

However, only a lucky - and dedicated - few will make the grade at senior level. Macauley sees a new level of seriousness among minors compared to his time at U-18 level a decade ago.

"We were coaching young Dublin kids at camps over the last few weeks, and it's good for them to learn what sort of a commitment is needed at this level - if they want it.

"Being a Dublin footballer isn't for everyone, and no one's going to force you into doing it. But, if these kids do want to pursue their dreams, they have to know that it takes a level of commitment, and they are going to have to do certain things to get there.

"I think the earlier they know exactly what's involved, the better. The kids coming through at the moment are coming through much better educated than we were, and definitely know what's involved," he said.

Whatever about the long-term future of Dublin GAA, Jim Gavin and his merry men have more immediate priorities to occupy them in the short term.

Despite the high scores the Dubs have racked up en route to the last four of the Sam Maguire Cup competition, there's no chance of complacency among the Dublin players as they go full-on in training ahead of Sunday week's All-Ireland semi-final against Donegal.

The memory of grinding their way through tough situations in their winning campaigns of 2011 and 2013, particularly in last year's final against Mayo, is coded into the DNA of the metropolitans.

That experience, plus the ferocious competition for places, underpins the Dublin level of readiness for Donegal.

"We have to go to the well every time we have a training session. Look, the competition is absolutely disgusting at the moment.

"It's so tough trying to get a jersey, and lads are rightfully trying to kill each other trying to get a jersey, " said Macauley.

The All-Ireland winning midfielder was speaking in Dublin yesterday at an event urging supporters to enter a 'Moro GAA bar' competition run by Cadbury.

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