The only thought in the mind of Dublin’s James McCarthy is the “humdinger” expected against Donegal this weekend

James McCarthy in action, warming up in last year Leinster Quarter Final

The Dublin Senior Footballers come back from a weekend off to face their biggest challenge this year. The road will lead them to Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan for what James McCarthy has described as a “Humdinger” against Donegal on Saturday.

Now 31, McCarthy is part of an elite group of players to hold eight Senior All Ireland medals. And he’s in good company. Among his own cohorts are Stephen Cluxton, Philly McMahon, Michael Fitzsimons, Cian O’Sullivan and Kevin McManamon. And he’s also the youngest of the gang. Of course these Dublin players share a limelight with Kerry greats Denis ‘Ogie’ Moran, Páidí Ó Sé, Ger Power, Mikey Sheehy and Pat Spillane.

Most of us will watch in anticipation to see if any of these Dublin greats surpass the Kerry rivals and clinch a record nine celtic crosses. But McCarthy is not looking past the weekend’s League Semi Final.

Speaking at the launch of the Go-Ahead Dublin GAA leagues and championships, McCarthy described their weekend opponents as “a really strong side, young side, loads of good footballers, they have been showing good form”.

“Obviously they were disappointed with how the Championship finished last year, defeated by Cavan in the Ulster final, but they are a team that we’ve had really tight games with over the last three or four years in all of the League matches”.

“I think we won by a point last year, year before was probably similar — a point either way”.

Reducing the hype on a record breaking year

On the subject of another potential record though, McCarthy will be trying not to get caught up in any hype.

“If it happens, it happens. It would be great. I’m enjoying my football still. I’m 31 now, not too many years left, but hopefully I have another three or four at it if I’m lucky”.

“If you think ahead, you get caught. I’m just focusing every day on getting better as a player. I still think I can get better, so I’m trying to keep on producing for the team”.

It’s an interesting weekend. Even if Dublin win against Donegal, they may be left in limbo for a league final. If Tyrone beat Kerry we could see a League Final, but if Kerry are successful it throws things in the air as the timeframe between the League and Kerry’s championship won’t allow it, and the title would be shared. Something McCarthy would be disappointed about.

“We had a free weekend just gone by. I don’t think there’s any issue with teams playing week-on-week. That (extra weekend) could have been a weekend where you had the semi-finals or whatever. Obviously, the calendar was laid out a few weeks back, and they’re being rigid and sticking to it. If it doesn’t happen and there’s no league final, it would be a pity”.