Exact nature of James McCarthy’s knee injury remains unclear

Dublin camp have yet to clarify how long Ballymun Kickhams man will be ruled out

James McCarthy: athletic defender has played a huge role in Dublin’s success in recent years. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

James McCarthy: athletic defender has played a huge role in Dublin’s success in recent years. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Nobody knows how serious James McCarthy’s knee injury, sustained eight days ago in training, is except Dublin manager Jim Gavin, McCarthy himself and medical experts.

It was initially described last Sunday, by Gavin, as a “contact injury on his quad”.

“Don’t think anybody blinked in the dressingroom when they saw James wasn’t starting,” said Gavin of a collective panel mentality religiously preached by the holders of all major trophies in Gaelic football.

Any chance, Gavin was asked, of it being serious enough to rule McCarthy out of the All-Ireland quarter-final against Donegal or Cork on August 6th? “Absolutely not,” Gavin replied Sunday evening.

“Spoke to him this morning so he’ll be back very soon.”

Medial ligament

The Daily Mirror

However, further noise from the Dublin camp remains adamant the defender, who is having an exceptional season even by his own high standards, will return soon.

“James is a real quality player,” said Paddy Andrews at the announcement of Life Style Sports new Dublin GAA partnership. “The form, like you say, throughout this season especially and even last season . . . he is a real leader for us, a key player for us.

“It’s great that the injury is only a little bang. Hopefully he will be back for the next day in a couple of week’s time. It wasn’t as bad as initially feared, which is great because obviously after losing Jack and Rory, you don’t want to lose your quality players.”

Andrews’s arrival proved crucial to Dublin figuring out their lack of penetration from deep, due to McCarthy’s absence, when replacing wing back Eric Lowndes at half-time during Sunday’s Leinster final.

Dublin, only leading Westmeath 0-7 to 0-6, rattled off ten points in the next 20 minutes to allay fears of a county relegated to Division Four causing them any real harm.

The potential problem is what a Division One county, like Cork or Donegal, could do to the All-Ireland champions now that – again, potentially – half, but definitely one third, of the defence that restricted Kerry to just 0-9 last September are unavailable.

“It’s no secret over the last few years that our squad has been really central to our success,” said Andrews.

“I just don’t think you can have success with just 15 players. Especially if you are looking to win national leagues and Leinster championships and All-Irelands.

Lose form

Andrews seems to highlight the problem while trying to provide a solution. Between them, Jack McCaffrey, Rory O’Carroll and McCarthy own seven All-Ireland medals, four All Stars and one (incumbent) footballer of the year accolade. These men would not be bench merchants in this current Dublin squad, they would be guaranteed starters if fit or at home.

“Jack and Rory deciding to step out of it was a new proposition, a new challenge for us, but that’s what we have been working towards in all our underage systems – bringing these guys onto the panel when they are 19 or 20 to get experience so when they are called upon they are able to deal with it.”

But an inescapable fact remains that Lowndes, playing in McCarthy’s usual position, was the man Gavin replaced when seeking another way to put Westmeath away.

It worked.

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