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Sunday 25 September 2016

Landing Sam in 2011 unlocked pressure on current Dubs: McCarthy

Dublin’s John McCarthy before the 1977 All-Ireland SFC final win over Armagh.
Dublin’s John McCarthy before the 1977 All-Ireland SFC final win over Armagh.

John McCarthy is an admirer of Cody's Cats.

He'll he heading to their favourite fireside chair on Saturday evening.

Nowlan Park, the heartbeat of Cody County.

The Dubs are coming to town and the Nore is bubbling with excitement.

Laois beat Wicklow to earn their ticket to the carnival.

What a night it would have been for the Wicklow boss, the great Jonny Magee, taking on his beloved Dubs.

"I love watching Kilkenny play because they are so hard to beat," says John McCarthy.

"The standards that they set themselves are so high. They are a credit to hurling," adds the 1970s Dublin hero, and father of current star James.

And John says the Dubs are a credit to football.

But in the modern era they have been getting free travel on the Leinster Express.

All agree that a more challenging climb on Mount Leinster would be more beneficial.

But that's not a concern for Capital Hill. Like all, John would favour a return of the Royals.

The days when Boylan's Boys and the Dubs danced the Light Fantastic during the late 1980s and into the '90s.

"That was a great Meath team with the likes of Colm O'Rourke, Bernard Flynn, Brian Stafford and all the rest of them.

"It was great to watch them because they were a team that never knew when they were beaten. Even if they went ten points down, you'd be saying to yourself that they are going to come back.

Resilient

"Mickey Harte's All-Ireland winning Tyrone side were like that too. So resilient. They were another great team. And I think we all enjoy watching great sides."

Especially Dublin.

"From my perspective, they are a phenomenal side. And for the neutral, they must be a very good team to watch."

John played on one of the most famous teams of all - Heffo's Heroes.

"It was a great era. We enjoyed it. Marvellous days and great people. Such a special period. And it's like anything. A team has its golden era and then it's knocked off its perch. That's the way sport is."

He was regarded as one of the finest forwards of his generation. A wonderful athlete. Bright and sharp.

And they say as priceless to Dublin as John Egan was for Kerry.

Young John Egan is doing well with Gillingham. Likewise, James McCarthy for the Dubs.

"All the families sit together. You'd be nervous when the young fella is playing. It's the same for all of us. You'd be uptight."

John has enjoyed recent times.

"Dublin are the standard bearers. They have done so well.

"It was much more difficult coming up to 2011 because we hadn't won the All-Ireland for so long, 16 years is a long time.

"Winning that All-Ireland took the pressure off the group, and off Dublin as a county.

"And for 30 years, we were getting pasted by Kerry. Everybody seems to forget that now, so it's nice to get the odd win over them!"

John admires the approach of Jim Gavin and all the crew.

The players soaking the jersey in sweat everytime they go out.

Everybody playing for their place. The sense that getting game-time is a real privilege.

And the focused look, and the mind of the job, when the bus pulls into Nowlan Park on Saturday evening.

"Last year there was only a kick of a ball in the semi-final. In fact, the two semi-finals could have gone either way."

Kerry getting past Tyrone by four points and Mayo taking Dublin to a replay. John feels Mayo won't be too far away.

"Their U21s were tremendous in winning the All-Ireland. Such a powerful midfield pairing. You'd have to think that Mayo will be huge contenders again. And I think there's plenty of football to look forward to in the next few months."

It's a favourite time of year. Following the Dubs, a few rounds of golf, and James Last's music beginning another Sunday Game. John will embrace the glory days. Just like he did back in the 1970s.

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