Reputations count for nothing in new regime – Macauley
Dubs midfielder proving himself all over again in Gavin's drive for Sam
NEW year, new manager, and Michael Darragh Macauley was wondering where he stood in the pecking order for the Dublin team.
Back in 2010, Macauley had been given the chance to make a name for himself with the Dubs by Pat Gilroy, and that adventure reached a peak with an All-Ireland medal and an All Star award in 2011.
Last year's bid by the Blues to land back-to-back Sam Maguires faltered at the semi-final stage against Mayo, but Macauley had proven yet again his dedication to the cause and his tremendous value to the team.
Surely there could be no doubts in his mind that he would be an important figure in Jim Gavin's plans?
Well, there were doubts, or at least a need to show the new manager what he could do.
"It was said at the start, 'we don't care who you are, or what you've won or what All Stars you have or any of that crap', so lads had to prove themselves," says Macauley.
"I didn't know if Jim was a fan at all of what I do, but he stressed from day one that he was going to play in-form players – and that's the only way to have it.
"No lads should be picked on their reputation, and I don't think they have been."
From Macauley's perspective, the first part of the season didn't go as smoothly as he'd have liked.
He was busting a gut in training and even doing extra sessions on his own but found himself having a bumpy start to the year. A suspension for a red card picked up against Kerry didn't help.
"I found the league frustrating," he admits. "I just wasn't catching a break. It was stop-start.
"I'd really planned on hitting the ground running. I couldn't pinpoint why I wasn't playing well because I'd done the work, but now I feel psychologically a lot better. I'm really looking forward to a big championship campaign."
Victory in the league final over Tyrone – and a first title since 1993 – showed the depth of talent available to Gavin as he juggled his forces.
Afterwards the manager refused to get excited about that milestone victory, and Macauley has no quibble with Gavin's attitude.
"Lads wanted to win a league title, and any player would want to finish a career with a league medal, but we've firmly drawn a line in the sand," he says.
"We've bigger things to look at this year. It was great to win it but now we're onwards and upwards into the championship."
The championship for Dublin begins this evening with a clash against Westmeath, who've been promoted to Division 1 and have a Leinster victory already under the belt after seeing off Carlow.
Home advantage at Croke Park won't harm the Dubs' chances and they are favourites. No matter what the opposition, Macauley draws confidence from the quality of players and the winning habit within the squad.
"Lads have to have that winning mentality. There's a lot of medals in that dressing-room and hopefully it can come together and we'll win one more this year," he says.