Friday 20 September 2019

'I think I have another level to be honest' - Michael Darragh Macauley ready for Dublin's Drive for Five

Michael Darragh MacAuley of Dublin in action against Rory Brennan of Tyrone. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Michael Darragh MacAuley of Dublin in action against Rory Brennan of Tyrone. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Dublin's Michael Darragh MacAuley. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

All around him, Michael Darragh Macauley sees reminders that the sands of time are slipping through his fingers.

It's eight years since Dublin made the breakthrough in 2011 and Macauley gave his famous 'unbelievable belief' interview just minutes after Stephen Cluxton's historic free.

Much has changed since then. Dublin All-Ireland wins are the rule rather than the exception and in the dressing-room now he sees fewer of the old guard who helped reshape football in the county.

Paul Flynn, Dublin's captain of industry for so long, punched the clock for the last time earlier this year while Bernard Brogan is in a battle to make the match-day 26 on Sunday.

Others like Alan Brogan and Ger Brennan, who at various stages looked irreplaceable for the Dubs, have moved on. Still, Dublin have thrived.

There's only a handful around the place who know what it's like to lose in the championship, let alone lose in Leinster. Dublin's supporters now look to the Fentons, Mannions and Kilkennys of this world to realise their five-in-a-row dreams.

But six years after winning the Footballer of the Year award, Macauley is still there, as relevant now to Dublin as he has ever been. "My body is feeling good, Paul was saying his body wasn't feeling good. Bernard obviously had injuries and he was coming back from last year and bits and pieces," he says.

"So, as I said, I'll probably trip on a step coming out of here and be out of the final but that's the way it goes. I've had a clean run of things for the last while and I'm in a decent position."

GAA Newsletter

Expert GAA analysis straight to your inbox.

Given his age and nature of his position, perhaps it's no surprise that he's only started and finished one of Dublin's 14 games across league and championship this year (the Super 8s game against Cork), but Macauley has been enjoying a productive summer.

Early in the league, emerging talent Darren Gavin was exposed to more minutes but as the season has worn on and the games taken on extra significance, Macauley has been more prominent and has featured in every championship game.

And since the serious business of the Super 8s rolled around, he has started every game with the exception of the dead rubber Tyrone game. When it came to the crunch, Jim Gavin turned to Macauley once more.

And the Ballyboden man has rewarded that faith. He's scored three goals so far, more than luminaries of the game such as Michael Murphy and Paul Geaney, to add to his usual selfless endeavours.

Dublin's Michael Darragh MacAuley. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Dublin's Michael Darragh MacAuley. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

And, ahead of Sunday's final, he believes there's more to come.

"I think I have another level to be honest, which I need to hit at some stage because we don't have many matches left.

"But yeah, no, I feel good. I think a lot of this stuff comes down to getting a (good) run with the injuries.

"A lot of people don't see what happens behind the scenes, people have niggles, people wonder why people don't play, it's usually because they've been picking up niggles or haven't had a good run of training schedules. So I haven't had a scratch. Yeah, all good, feeling good."

On Sunday, they'll go again. The 'Drive for Five' and everything that comes with it has been left at the door.

Macauley is no great student of GAA history and though he's aware of 1982 and the legends it spawned, it's not something that will be getting airtime in the Dublin dressing-room this week.

"It's not something that bothers me individually. I've been hearing a different number every year for the last number of years. I believe this number is… five, is it?

"We had this exact same conversation three years ago and you said, 'You'll never do two, two, how will you deal with the pressure of two?' Then it was, 'Oh, three, three...' It is what it is. It's another number."

Irish Independent

The Throw-In: 'Jim Gavin has achieved what Mick O'Dwyer and Brian Cody couldn't do'

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Also in Sport