Saturday 19 October 2019

'Most GAA players are grounded, we don't have the millionaire lifestyles of the Premier League' - Michael Darragh Macauley

Michael Darragh Macauley gets off the bus with the Sam Maguire Cup during the Dublin homecoming
Michael Darragh Macauley gets off the bus with the Sam Maguire Cup during the Dublin homecoming
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Boys in Blue star Michael Darragh Macauley said the celebrations after Dublin's historic five-in-a-row are long over, saying GAA players are more grounded than the stars of other sports.

Macauley was part of Jim Gavin's squad who made GAA history by becoming the first team to win five back-to-back All-Ireland football titles in Croke Park two weeks ago.

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The Dubs heroes rightly enjoyed the days following their success, which included a pub music session with the likes of Mary Black, her son Coronas singer Danny O'Reilly and Christy Dignam.

However,Macauley said it wasn't long before the players got to back to reality.

"We are well down, back to work, I was pushing a trolley in Ikea and someone said: ‘Jaysus, you're back to reality. I said it doesn't get more real than this, pushing a shopping trolley in Ikea so yes, we're back.

"It's always fun to be up in the clouds and have the craic but I think most GAA players are grounded, we don't have the millionaire lifestyles of the Premier League to keep us up in the clouds, so it's not long before we're down from the clouds," he added.

Macauley has been juggling a busy year on the GAA pitch with his role as an engagement manager with the North East Inner City Initiative. He told the Herald he is trying to have a positive impact on young people in the inner city through his work on various regeneration projects in communities that have been badly affected by crime and drugs.

"Role models are huge in the community. I had my dad and brother, my friends who were successful, going to college and doing things. That was what you did, but a lot of people around here don't have that and maybe their parents... were struggling with jobs and addiction.

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"So if they can have a role model in their life who says 'this is what you do, you finish education, you get a job, you work hard' – whatever, it can be such an influence on young people.

"Even to have that one person in that child's life can be life-changing. I'm trying to guide children as a teacher and in my role in the north east inner city. I'd like to think I'd have an influence... it's all I can do is give people opportunities and advice.

"But I can't force them to do XYZ. They come from tough backgrounds.

"Sometimes people have an opinion about someone because of how they speak, or what they do but they don't realise what they go back home to. I see a lot of that and sometimes it's a miracle some of the kids are getting up and going to school.

"We are trying to use sport to help the kids fulfil their potential. They don't need to be world champions but just to be fulfilled and happy, making their way in the world," he added.

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