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Macauley says Dubs alive to Royal threat

HE'S back. Not that anyone expected anything otherwise, but the confirmation of Michael Darragh Macauley's presence in the Dublin team to face Meath on Sunday gives a wholly more explosive dimension to their ranks and, by extension, should generate a palpable excitement for the blue hordes.

Captivity, it seems, doesn't suit the new cult hero the Hill have christened 'MDMA'.

Like some species of caged animal, Macauley was released into the wilds of Croke Park in the Leinster semi-final against Wexford and promptly tore into everything he surveyed.



Unpredictability

Ghosting into space, seizing possession and running hard, Macauley's strength and unpredictability make him one of the most daunting forces in the Dublin line-up, even if Sunday will constitute his first start of the summer.

Funny story.

Macauley was selected to start against Louth, fell off his bicycle in the preamble to the match and thus lost out to Eamon Fennell and Denis Bastick, both of whom retained their spots for the Wexford game.

It was the second freak injury to afflict the powerful Ballyboden man in recent times, after he missed out on a start against Cork in last year's league when he choked on a chicken bone and underwent surgery to remove the offending item from his respiratory tract.

Cycling, we'll assume, will be kept to a minimum this week, and each piece of food consumed, thoroughly chewed.

Not that he was put out by not starting against Wexford.

"I was only coming back from injury (the bike accident) and the two boys did so well, there was no reason to change," he insisted in conversation with the Evening Herald, yet his impact was immediate and palpable, highlighting the unique style he brings to the position.

"You have to see how the game is going," he observes. "You might need different types of players for different types of games. Eamon (Fennell) wasn't taken off because he was playing badly at all. It just depends on the way the game is going."

Sunday then, will be his first start against Meath in any sort of competitive match. He was a late sub in the ill-fated 2010 game and, as he ruefully recalls, by the time he was sprung, "it was game over at that stage".

"I wasn't taking responsibility for that one! But yeah, it was a horrible feeling being on the pitch. I just wanted to go back into the dressing room ... there was nothing we could do."

Made worse given the fact it was Meath who had inflicted the pain?

"It didn't help," he shrugs. "But to take that sort of drilling off any team isn't nice.

"It was a real wake-up call. We had a decent league campaign and I think we thought we couldn't be beaten. It turned out we could be beaten and beaten pretty badly as well so it was a good wake-up call for us at the time. It stood to us for the rest of the season."



Immersed

If Macauley and his vintage aren't exactly immersed in the whole Dublin/Meath thing, they'll have gotten plenty of chapters and verses about it this week.

"You're always reminded by Dublin fans and everyone else that they like to have a cut at Meath," he accepts. "It's always great when there is a connection between the two teams.

"Hopefully it makes for a good atmosphere and a good game," he added. "The last time we played them it didn't go too well for us." Quite what to expect, no one is really sure, but Macauley is confident that the days of the 2010 Meath debacle and '09 Kerry implosion are consigned to bad memory.

In the meantime, they have also acquired a knack of putting teams away, a necessary skill, one would imagine, in disposing of a county with as spirited a tradition of battling odds and adversity as Meath.

"It's something we've worked on and built on in the last couple of years," Macauley admits. "In seasons gone by, we weren't as polished with regards to that in terms of finishing off games.

"But it's something that stands to us at the moment. It wasn't as polished as we would have liked against Wexford but it should stand to us. The way we came through and the way we came through with 14 men after being a few points down ... it's something we can be happy with."