Macauley looking to pick up some early silverware


O'Byrne Cup Final:“If lads don’t have the hunger back to win the All-Ireland this year, they’ve no right to be on the panel,” says Dublin’s Michael Darragh Macauley.

It might sound like an obvious statement of intent, but is not a throwaway remark, either.

Macauley is adamant that’s the sort of appetite Dublin need to be displaying all year, starting with Saturday’s O’Byrne Cup final against Kildare, because ultimately its absence cost them their All-Ireland title last year, as hard as it is to admit it.

“We’ve had some good, healthy games with Kildare over the last few years,” he says with a smile. “I’m sure Saturday will be same, an O’Byrne Cup up for grabs, and you want to get off to a winning start. Winning is a habit and the sooner you get into a winning habit, the better. If we can pick up a bit of silverware on Saturday, it would be great to roll into the league.

“Kildare seem pretty close to their championship team, we’ve had a few players in and out, are trying some new players, and they’re showing up trumps. It’s an exciting time. The panel is huge at the moment, a lot of guys after winning minors have come on, and the four lads who were brought on last year.

“They’ve all stepped up a gear, got an insight last year into what it takes to be a senior footballer. I would expect all of them to feature fairly heavily this year.

“Like Declan O’Mahony,who has been playing midfield for years, back now and he’s flying it, and I expect him to feature strongly this year. Emmet Ó Conghaile, Jack McCaffrey and, of course, Ciarán Kilkenny. And the likes of Davy Byrne, Darragh Nelson, who haven’t got a crack before, but hope to have a successful league campaign. And push on from there.”

Though still regarded as Dublin’s best midfielder, Macauley did feature at centre forward last summer, but that, he reckons, wasn’t the reason they lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Mayo.

“That got blown out of proportion. If I had played midfield in the semi, we still wouldn’t have won it. It was a whole host of things, but we’ve met up a lot since, tried to put a finger on it.

“I think we didn’t realise it at the time, but lads’ heads just weren’t clued in as much as the year before, simple as that. I knew we’d struggled with that early in the year, but thought we’d get our heads together, but in talking to people, all the panel, everyone’s heads weren’t in the right place at the right time.”

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