Dubs star James McCarthy: 'We would love to go down and play a game somewhere else in the first round'
JAMES McCARTHY is probably the least surprised person of all that Dean Rock finished the spring as the National Football League's top scorer.
If anything, McCarthy's just surprised it has taken his Ballymun Kickhams teammate this long to claim an extended run in the Dublin attack.
"It feels like he has been around for ages now at this stage," McCarthy acknowledges.
"He was unlucky with a few different things. He picked up a few bad injuries.
"He's got a steady run of games. It's important when you're trying to get into the team that you get a chance and he has this year. He got a run in the whole league and it's paid dividends.
"He finished the league as the top scorer so I'd say he's definitely in with a shout in the shake-up for the summer."
Whilst the three goals conceded form the first, second and third reasons in most Dublin people's assessment as to why last year's All-Ireland semi-final loss to Donegal occurred, missed frees at vital times fully killed the chance of Jim Gavin's struggling team building any semblance of momentum.
In this, Rock - now almost certain to start for Dublin in their Championship opener on May 31 - provides some insurance.
"He's an excellent free taker," McCarthy agrees.
"You would definitely have a lot of faith in him to kick those scores. It's an added bonus. He has that string to his bow. He can bring that to his playing."
Dublin will learn their Leinster quarter-final opponents on Saturday evening, when Longford play Offaly in Tullamore (7.0), though already, consternation over the choice of venue has touched hysterical levels.
Last week, Leinster Council chairman, John Horan, defended the staging of the Dublin v Longford/Offaly game in Croke Park as part of a double-header with the county's hurlers, who play Galway in the face of vociferous public opposition.
"Look, I've talked to you before," McCarthy, yet to play a Championship match outside Croke Park, sighs.
"We'd love to go down and play a game somewhere else in the first round. You would imagine it would be some day out, with 20 or 30 thousand Dubs.
"But look, we're told where we have to play. They might change it some day. But we'll see. What can you do?"
Dublin, league champions again, are favourites for this year's All-Ireland, though much of the talk fails to penetrate McCarthy's psyche.
"It comes with the territory, I guess," he shrugs.
"But you've just got to put yourself in a bit of a bubble and take every game as it comes. Try not to get ahead of yourself in training. You push each other on. Nail each other, if you like. We just said 'look, we'll take each competition as it comes'. The league is important.
"But we're very much focused on the Leinster Championship and then there'll be the All-Ireland Series, all going well.
"People want to come up and chat to you. So you have a chat. You don't want to come across as being rude."
"You just try not to say too much. It's part and parcel. It's a great time of the year. Everyone gets very excited.
"You see the ads on TV and the training gets ramped up.
"It's just great to be involved," McCarthy concludes.
"All the hard work in the months gone by is worth it," he concludes.