Tuesday 25 September 2018

Michael Carton: Dubs year can be rescued

Carton says his day job puts big defeats in clear perspective


WHETHER Dublin's familiarity with entering the qualifiers chastised and emotionally dishevelled counts for anything on Saturday - or during the past four soul searching weeks - is impossible to tell just yet.

Laois; flinty, organised and at home, will make life awkward but probably not unbearable in two days' time.

Because for all their upward trajectory under 'Cheddar' Plunkett, Ger Cunningham would have taken - had it been offered - a trip to Portlaoise over a home tie with Limerick, Cork or Clare - their oppositional alternatives in last Monday week's draw.

And Dublin have, at least, very recent and practical experience of attempting to reconstruct something like a decent summer from the ruins of a big, aching Leinster SHC loss.

In 2012, after the Kilkenny annihilation in Portlaoise (2-21 to 0-9) they went to Ennis and stirred with emotion on a balmy July Saturday evening, hurled with the purpose of a team wounded, but not fatally, until such time as the Clare fightback and the home support crushed them. Now?

Quite how deep a cut that Galway defeat left, we'll only know when their inner mettle is being examined again.

In any team, individuals will deal with that trauma in a myriad of different ways.

For Michael Carton, perspective is always close by.

"You're going to get your fatalities in the job I'm in," he says of his day/night job with the fire brigade's emergency response service.

"But I do find it's a bit of freedom when you go out and cross the white line and forget about everything else.

"You get out and play with a bit of freedom and not play with worry when you're out on the pitch, do you know that kind of way?

"The job I'm in puts hurling in perspective, absolutely.


"Sure if you're going from someone dying or doing CPR and then you're trying to compare it to a Championship match...that's why I just go out and enjoy myself when I'm playing."

Heavy stuff.

So if you thought Carton might be emotionally scarred by being the anchor in a full-back like that were ravaged by Galway's inside trio in Tullamore, you'd be spectacularly under-estimating the O'Toole's man's threshold for trauma.

Presumably then, his colleagues don't spare the mustard either when things go so awry as they did almost a month back in their heavy Leinster SHC semi-final replay defeat to the Tribesmen.

"Ah, yeah, absolute abuse," he laughs. "Did you see this goal? They'll have it on record. You get stick, but sure that's what you expect.


"They'll put it out there very quickly. I'm used to it. If you play well they are the first ones to congratulate you.

"You have to take both sides of it. I enjoy it.

"Because the lads in the station are brilliant for chatting and dealing with stuff. You're never on your own.

"That's why it's such a good job. It's perfect for me to be honest with you."

So unsympathetic towards the plight of an inter-county hurler are the hours though, Carton opted out of the Dublin panel back in 2010, though he says he has now mastered the act of balancing both.

"I've got used to it now," he explains.

"Ger is fine and Anthony (Daly) before him. Once you find that balance it's fine. I get on with it.

"Nights can be tough," Carton adds.

"I'm lucky with the work lads covering for me. If I have to miss a session, it's very seldom.

"I have a good balance I have to say, I'm looked after on both sides."

Had things gone only slightly differently in their first game with Galway, Dublin could be preparing for a Leinster final knowing that even defeat would guarantee a spot in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.


Which, given the events of the replay, represents an eminently more enjoyable place to be this week that their current predicament.

"You can't be thinking what ifs, it does you no good, so the only thing we can control now is how we train and prepare for the fourth of July," says Carton.

"Defeats are hard to take but when you go out like that and under perform all over the pitch, it's definitely very disappointing."

And a win would, should it come to pass, leave Dublin just another victory away from that same last six spot.

"Just eye on the next game," Carton insists of the folly of peering too deeply into rhetoric.

"You can't look past it," he concludes.

"That'd be detrimental."

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