Thursday 18 January 2018

Dubs star James McCarthy: 'Last year was a freak result'

Ballymun flyer McCarthy starting to find his best form again after groin operation

James MacCarthy, Dublin
James MacCarthy, Dublin
Cork's Paul Kerrigan in action against James McCarthy

SO long as Division 1 of the Allianz Football League retains a semi-final stage in its ever-changing structure, it will rank amongst its most remarkable results in that particular juncture.

To recap, Cork led Dublin by 10 points.

Jim Gavin's team won by seven.

Brian Cuthbert, who - to his eternal credit - has retraced his team's errant footsteps often and with good nature in interviews since, regularly attributes the collapse to "17 minutes of madness".

Quite what clicked, in the Dublin dressing-room, is less clear.

"My memories were that I thought we were in serious bother," recalled James McCarthy in Croke Park yesterday at the press launch of the Allianz FL Division 1 and 2 finals of last year's semi against this Sunday's final opponents.

"I was thinking 'how are we going to pull this one out of the bag?'

"But we just sat down at half-time and we just had to start playing. We went off the cuff, threw a bit of caution to the wind and went for it.

Cork's Paul Kerrigan in action against James McCarthy

"We got on a roll then. I know playing in games like that when the momentum is against you, it's hard to swing it back. We just got on top of Cork.

"We really went after the kickouts," he explained. "I think we got a goal early on at the start of the second half and I think it just snowballed from there."

"It was just one of those freak results. They don't happen too often."

Cork stumbled towards summer, floundered against Kerry in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, and rebuilt their architecture at the season's end.

Dublin blitzed Derry in the League final, everyone in Leinster and Monaghan before Donegal changed their particular outlook in a cutting semi-final defeat, one which had some of the same performance traits as the first part of the Cork display.

"It's a great boost, to come back from that, going into the summer," McCarthy insisted.

"What happened against Donegal, it was more to do with how we played on the day. It had nothing to do with anything that happened earlier in the year.

"It was just on the day."

With regards to Sunday, McCarthy says his team will be "going gung-ho," to win what would be a third league title in-a-row.

On the other hand, he's at least slightly surprised that he and his team are in this year's final to be begin with.

"It wasn't the main thing for us this year but we still go out and try and win every game we can," he outlined.

"So in that way, it's been a great league for us. We've tried out a lot of players, fellas have come back from injuries so we're starting to come into it nicely now.

"It's great preparation for us. That's the main thing for us.


"Getting this game on Sunday, four or five weeks out from the Championship, that's the main thing."

McCarthy was one of those Dublin players for whom the early part of the league was devoted to regaining fitness after a long standing groin injury and for what it's worth, he says now he's "delighted to get it (operation) in the end.

"When you first come back, you're still a bit worried about it because you feel it a little bit but touch wood, everything has been good the last few weeks. In fairness, the surgeon was very clear. Nearly to the day when he said I'd be feeling good, I was feeling good again. Obviously, look, I'm under a bit of pressure to get back into the side but it's good that I got it done.

"I don't have to take painkillers and anti-inflammatories," he continued.

"I can train every training session. You're not in bits for three or four days after matches.

"You can do a bit more training and you're not wrecking your stomach taking all sorts of painkillers."

"It came on all of a sudden and then got worse and worse. I don't think there was any underlying issue.

"Just that year, there was a big load to it and it caught up with me.

"It just got worse and worse and I just kept playing on it.

"When I was finished with Dublin, I went straight in with the club," McCarthy added. "So it just got to the stage where it was better to get it done."



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