Sunday 23 September 2018

Tyrone men will relish playing us: McCarthy

Winning in 2011 set tone for glory era

James McCarthy
James McCarthy

As a divider between the bad old days and the still-developing glory era of Dublin football, James McCarthy's career works quite neatly.

He made his League debut on the day Dublin beat Kerry on Kingdom soil for the first time in 27 years in a campaign where they began to beat the best teams in the country with an unfamiliar degree of regularity and as a point of principle.

Since then, he has won four All-Irelands in his seven years as a Dublin footballer, six Leinster titles in the same time span and four Leagues.

"If you asked me back then, I didn't think we would go on and do what we done the last couple of years," McCarthy, who turns 27 next month, admits now.


"But the wheels starting turning, the combination of players coming at the right time, the right management in Jim (Gavin) taking over.

"And," he adds, "winning the first one was the big one. We could easily have lost that game. If you didn't win your first All-Ireland, do you believe you can do it again?"

Chances are, they'd have won one at this stage anyway but it seems now, as Dublin stand over a 30-game unbeaten run in League and Championship, in possession of every cup available to them and in this, the season where their immortality could be guaranteed, it can't get a whole lot better for McCarthy and his team mates.

Vitally, they have dug, ground and hammered out results from every conceivable position of peril in the most pressurised of matches since that chastising defeat to Donegal in August 2014.

"When it comes to big games, you are looking around you and with a few minutes to go, it is getting really loud, you know what to do," McCarthy confirms.

"You've been there before, and it helps. As a player, being there definitely helps.

"The fact you have done it before, gives you that belief and that is hard to come by."

Topically enough, McCarthy reckons a changed attitude to the League was effectively Dublin laying a foundation for the success they have constructed.

"We changed and we said that we were going to take the league really seriously," McCarthy says.

"If we are going to start beating these teams in the summer, we are going to need to beat them in the League," he adds.

And our first one is when we went down to beat Kerry down there and then we started picking up these wins away and it just stands to you."

Which is partly why their League record has been so spectacular of late.

McCarthy admits to taking satisfaction out of keeping a lid on their All-Ireland rivals, even this early in the year.

"Obviously Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone they are our big rivals as well and you want to keep on trying to beat them, or keep trying to get the upper hand on them like.

"You don't want to give them that little bit ..... you don't want them to flip it if you like. If they beat us in the League, they'll think, 'why can't we beat them in the summer'?"

This Saturday's opponents Tyrone, "seemed like they were disappointed with how their year ended last year," McCarthy notes.

"I think they were expecting to do a bit better than they did.

"Tyrone," he adds, "don't make things easy for you, I think they'll be relishing playing us on Saturday."

Naturally, McCarthy is bound to the 'one game at a time' mantra his manager is fond of using but he's also acutely aware of what prizes the season holds.

"You always have your eye on the bigger picture down the road but it has worked so well for us the last couple of years, taking it, bit of a cliché at this stage, but taking it week-in and week-out.

"Not going to lie to you, you do look at down the road and think of what is coming but you do try to narrow it down for this time of year.

"Get fit, get our skills right and get our touch right and get sharpening the axe."

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