Sunday 18 March 2018

We want to be a great team

Macauley says Dubs have no intention of settling for just one All-Ireland crown

DUBLIN have enjoyed their pats on the back, but now it's back to business.

And for Michael Darragh Macauley, that means striving to make the quantum leap from "good" All-Ireland champions to great ones.

"There's only so much you can pat yourself on the back, to be honest. And we have been patted on the back," Macauley told the Evening Herald today, speaking ahead of this Sunday's Allianz League trek to face Down in Newry.

Done and dusted

"Grand, that's done and dusted now and get over it basically. We have to just look forward to next summer. We really want to try and put a marker down as being a great Dublin team, and not just happy with the once-off.

"That's not my opinion -- that's everyone's opinion," the powerhouse midfielder stressed.

"So definitely we are looking at becoming a great Dublin team and trying to get another win under our belt."

Last Sunday's Croke Park demolition of Armagh suggests that both Dublin and Macauley -- who was back to his lung-busting, bravura best -- are going about their All-Ireland title defence the right way.

That 16-point cakewalk has propelled the Sky Blues firmly into the shake-up for a Division One semi-final place.

Moreover, a third consecutive win -- in Down - would copperfasten the belief that they've rediscovered last year's compelling momentum. Macauley certain hopes so.

"I think it is quite important (to reach the semis) because the teams that have done well in the league have done well in the championship. It's no big secret," he said.

"It just gives you a great platform going into the championship. It is different, but you are not just going to turn it on in the championship if you've had a poor league campaign. You have to have that confidence built up in the league."

As Macauley sees it, last year is history and Dublin can't expect to simply press a button at the start of June.

"It's a whole new cycle. There are different players coming in; there's a different way we go about things," he pointed out.


"We have to go in with a fresh attitude and try and build up that momentum again.

"It was like a steam train getting going last year. It took a while to get going but, once we got going, it was very hard to stop.

"We want to get that going the exact same way again."

With Bernard Brogan ruled out through injury this weekend and yet to feature this spring, and his brother Alan just back in the starting team last Sunday, Dublin have been reliant on other less decorated sources for scores.

Thus far, Eoghan O'Gara and Diarmuid Connolly have plugged the gap quite brilliantly.

"In 2010 we were quite heavily reliant on the scores of Bernard and Alan, and it's great to know in our own heads that we can do it without the two lads," the Ballyboden St Enda's man reflected.

"The boys have been running amok inside -- Mister Connolly and Mister O'Gara, and Kevin McManamon as well when he gets the chances. It's great.

"You have to have those options, because Bernard is not always going to win the game for you, and the same with Alan."

Macauley himself was happy with his own contribution against Armagh, admitting: "It was the freshest I felt going into a game.

" I had a little niggles, and I knew going into the game that I was feeling right, so I was happy to get a decent performance."

But what about Connolly's exquisite hat-trick?

"He's a natural goalscorer," enthused Macauley, who teed up the St Vincent's man for his second goal.

"He has a great touch. He has been scoring those goals since he was five years old, I'd say. It's no bother to him," he added.

"Last year was the same. He delivered big time in patches - he scored the same 3-3 against Mayo, so everyone knows he has the superstar qualities at times.

"He did have a great championship as well, so hopefully he'll keep that form going."

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