herald

Thursday 24 August 2017

Mac: I'll never take a mark

'If I catch a ball I'm not going to stop'

Dublin defender James McCarthy Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin defender James McCarthy Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin’s Paddy Andrews in action against Rory Beggan of Monaghan during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match in Croke Park. Photo: Sportsfile

So unenthused about the now pending introduction of the 'mark' to Gaelic football is James McCarthy, he's already "fairly sure I'll never take one."

Jarlath Burns, head of the think-tank which drove the latest attempt to bring the supposed reward for that endangered art of fielding, pointed out at the Congress that the 'mark' had been trialled in the past in the 2010 League.

What he neglected to add, was that results weren't particularly good, otherwise it would have been brought in then.

"I know if I catch a ball in the middle of the park, I'm not going to stand there and take a free. It's a bit stupid," McCarthy told the Herald.

Messy

"What's the advantage? You catch and you get a free kick? There's not much of an advantage there."

"Generally, if you catch a ball, you get out of there as fast as you can. I know myself, if I catch a ball, I'm not going to stop.

"To be honest, I'm fairly sure I'll never take a mark. It's just not in your nature, if you catch a ball, to stop and put your hand up.

"I think it will be very messy. Very messy for players and referees. Especially after it's not trialled. I don't know where it's coming from."

McCarthy, who was busy on Saturday helping Dublin to a third League win on the trot, found out afterwards that, as expected, no change had been made to the All-Ireland SFC structure or the wider issue of fixtures.

"It's crazy," he argued.

"It has to change. I can't believe they haven't voted something in yet. What's two weeks going to do? They can't bring it (the All-Ireland final) forward two weeks?!

"It hurts my club more than most. We have four or five lads coming back in, who literally are back in and have two or three days to get ourselves going for a Championship game.

"It's shocking, really.

"They should just block the month of September. It's a great month to play club football, to run off the club Championship.

"I'm sure it will change eventually but at the moment, it's madness."

These are the issues that McCarthy, as a Dublin senior of six years standing, tends to consider a little bit more than he used to.

He turns 26 next week, yet describes himself - half in jest - as "one of the old men of the team."

Certainly, he has become one of the leaders.

"I've slipped into that older group now," he points out.

"It's all young lads underneath us now. But I've a lot of experience now myself. We've had big wins and we've had big losses as well.

It's hard to imagine McCarthy taking the Rory O'Carroll route out of the life of an inter-county footballer before time.

"Myself, I love the football," he admits. "We only have a certain amount of years at it. There's plenty of time to do other things.

"I hope to go on playing into my early thirites, if I'm lucky. I'm just going to enjoy it while I can."

Already, Dublin look bound for a spot in the League's play-offs.

They've Cork on Saturday night in Croke Park and have, in the past two games, demonstrated their impressive knack for winning tight games when not quite at full pelt.

"We've a lot of experience in the team now.

"We've been on the go for a few years and we know how to grind out these results when we're not firing on all cylinders like (Saturday) night," McCarthy explains.

Steel

"Monaghan are one of the top teams. They get stuck into you and they're a hard nut to crack."

"It comes with experience. When Pat came in, he brought that; a bit of steel. We weren't going to back down.

"And all the wins now we've accumulated.

"We just know what to do at the right times. We stay calm. We stay in control. We know the drill."

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