Macauley eager to get back on his bike again
GAELIC GAMES:After an injury on two wheels the Ballyboden man is back on his two feet and glad to have reclaimed a starting role, writes GAVIN CUMMISKEY
IT CAN be argued that Dublin’s football team selection has become transparent. More tweaks than changes.
For all the convincing talk about A versus B internal matches and their undoubted intensity, come championship, as the defending All-Ireland champions, the names on the teamsheet are household ones now.
What is noticeable about the Gilroy management is once you slip out of the side it becomes extremely difficult to make up the lost ground.
Michael Dara Macauley and Philly McMahon both know this. McMahon lost his place in the team last year and couldn’t get it back once Cian O’Sullivan got motoring.
O’Sullivan is a special case, in that his natural athleticism and football brain gets him back into the side whenever the hamstrings are working. McMahon has forced a way into the line-up of late and remains for Sunday’s Leinster final. Ger Brennan loses out.
Macauley, the unorthodox yet highly effective midfielder, also returns but in the number 14 jersey.
Eamonn Fennell’s match fitness and trimmer frame saw him paired in midfield alongside the marauding Denis Bastick when Macauley crashed his bike a few weeks ago.
This wasn’t a Conal Keaney, cruciate tearing, motorcycle accident. He just came off his bicycle.
“Just a bike, yeah, they wont give me one with a motor for a while now.”
It meant a line went through Macauley’s name for the quarter-final against Louth on June 3rd. With Wexford on the horizon, the Ballyboden St Enda’s man had to get himself fit and then remove one of the aforementioned pair before July 1st.
“The lads did well so it was going to be tough to try and get your place back. I was well aware that I wasn’t going to walk back into the team. There’s huge competition within the team but we need that going forward.”
He replaced Fennell at half-time against Wexford but it must be what’s seen behind closed doors that tends to influence Gilroy’s decision making.
“I suppose it’s all noted but it’s probably the hard work you put in at training,” said Macauley.
“If you have a lot of A versus B games – and we’ll have them now before the Meath match – everyone will get a chance to stake their claim again for a starting 15 jersey, which is what everyone wants.”
It’s hard to know what role Macauley will play on Sunday. Eoghan O’Gara was the obvious replacement for the suspended Diarmuid Connolly but Gilroy went another way.
Maybe Macauley will provide a foil for Bernard Brogan on the inside line, but it seems more likely he will wander into the middle third.
The aerial influence of Conor Gillespie in Meath’s defeat of Kildare allied by the presence of Graham Reilly may just demand his presence out the field.
The Dublin and Meath rivalry doesn’t really apply to the current players, but that could easily change over this weekend.
“I think definitely from the fans’ perspective, there is; they love a good Meath match. This generation of the Dublin team hasn’t had a huge rivalry with that Meath team but definitely over the years from a spectators’ point of view it is huge.
“I remember the Meath game in 2010 didn’t go too well for us. There’s a great atmosphere in Croke Park when the two teams are playing so I’m really looking forward to it.”