'Replay was the best thing that happened for me'
Watching the majority of last year's drawn All-Ireland final from the bench amounted to "the weirdest feeling" James McCarthy reckons he's ever had.
Black-carded for what referee Conor Lane deemed a deliberate body collide with Cillian O'Connor in the 25th minute that day, McCarthy watched Dublin waste a late three-point lead to draw, necessitating a replay on the first day of October.
The Ballymun Kickhams man played every minute of the second game and admits now "in a weird twisted way, it was nearly the best result I could have got".
"But it was a horrible, horrible feeling after a drawn final. I've heard other people saying it. It's a real downer after it. We didn't play well. We weren't happy with how we played.
"So that compounded things. But inside I was delighted.
"I didn't show it on the outside but I was delighted to play again, just from a selfish point of view," added the Kickhams man.
The draw and Dublin's performance therein, McCarthy found: "just hard to watch.
"You're thinking 'I could do this or do that or try and swing the game or make a big play'. That's kind of frustrating. It's hard to watch. Especially … you can nearly see Mayo coming back at us.
"And you're thinking 'we need to do something to stop it'.
"I'm not the best of viewers at the best of times. So it was tough going.
"It was just surreal really. It was the weirdest feeling I've ever had really.
"Twenty minutes into a final, it's the last thing you would expect. I suppose in a weird twisted way, it was nearly the best result I could have got. Because I got a chance to play the final again, if you like."
It was a satisfying end to a year that threatened to un-spool completely for McCarthy.
Shoulder and knee injuries forced him out of both the Leinster final and the All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Donegal.
"Not at the best of times in the summer - in the middle of summer," he admitted.
"So I just about got on the pitch for the couple of games. I was delighted to get on the pitch. It was just bad timing really.
"I was happy with the football I was playing. I got a good run of games there and I was moving well.
"Playing really at the top of my game.
"So just unlucky with the way it kind of fell."