Dublin's All Star defender James McCarthy is hopeful that team-mate Alan Brogan will stay on with the county panel for another year
Brogan has yet to confirm whether he intends to extend his intercounty career to a 13th season, but for McCarthy the 32-year-old’s big game know-how is certainly “worth having around”.
Brogan returned last summer from an injury-plagued 2013, and with Ciaran Kilkenny coming back soon from his cruciate ligament and Brogan suggesting any sort of return would be post-league, three is increasing doubt about the future of the 2011 Footballer of the Year.
For McCarthy, though, it's "definitely important" that the three-time All Star does opt to prolong his Dublin career.
“It’s important because he’s great to help the young fellas coming in, it’s great to help them out. I remember a couple of years ago when I came in myself, he helped me. They have seen so much – so, yeah, they’re definitely worth having around.”
The “they” refers to Brogan and Ger Brennan. The St Vincent’s centre back missed every championship game for Dublin last year because of a persistent Achilles’ injury.
“They’ve been there and done that. Those moments in games when the heat is on, they know how to react. Gerry definitely has a handle on these situations.”
Brennan’s absence was amplified during Dublin’s championship exit against Donegal in the All-Ireland semi-final.
The team’s naivety in defence that day in particular allowed the Ulster champions to slice through at will, scoring 3-14 in total. “I’d say we did [miss Brennan against Donegal],” said McCarthy. “I’d be good friends with Gerry, we’ve played for a few good years together and we’ve a good understanding. I think we did miss him.”
While both Brogan and Brennan have had their latter years disrupted by injuries, at just 24 McCarthy is himself beginning to feel the strain of an excessive playing schedule which is likely to rule him out of the early stages of next year’s league campaign. His ongoing groin injury may even require surgery.
“I look after myself. I’m beginning to think it is [overuse]. I haven’t had much time off to be honest and just going for long seasons and playing a lot of games. Just the volumes, I guess, it eventually gets you.
“We have had lads with injuries that are down to more wear and tear than breaking bones or things snapping. It definitely is a factor, particularly those years at 20 or 21 when you’re playing under-21, senior, club, college. In a way, I’m delighted I can just concentrate on the one team now.
“There’s no structure to it. You’re just going from one competition to the next and you do have time off but it’s a bit of a mess. You’d just like to know you’ve a set time off like six weeks. There is surely a way to tidy the thing up. They have to do it.”
Injuries aside, McCarthy admits a disappointing conclusion to last summer’s championship took its toll on the panel but all concerned are “just mad for road now” in 2015.
“In two years we have lost once [in championship] and obviously there are things which we have to work on, but it is not the end of the world. There is going to be no major overhaul.”