But Dublin colossus James McCarthy won’t be drawn on five-in-a-row attention

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

They’re off already. Drawing comparisons between then and now. Every attempt to suggest that it might not be Dublin’s year, as Jim Gavin’s Senior panel look to create history.

If they do it, if they manage to secure five successive All Ireland titles, they’ll be lauded by all as the greatest football team in the history of the game. And if they don’t? A cue will form of everyone from former players to TV pundits (they’re the same thing right?) to proclaim the “I told you so” stories for as long as anyone cares to listen.

But the matter in hand for Dublin, as it is every year at this juncture, is the provincial championship, nothing else. May 25th, the throng of faithful supporters will descend on Father Brown Avenue in Portlaoise to see the beginning of their story. 2012 was the last time Dublin faced Louth in a championship game. And in Pat Gilroy’s last year as Dublin manager, the boys in blue saw off the men from the wee county in Croke Park by 2-22 to 0-12 in the last eight.

But here is where the comparisons are being brought to the fore. 2012 was the last time Dublin lost three or four league games. We also know they relinquished their All Ireland Crown, beaten by Mayo in the Championship Semi Final. God, you really can use any statistic to put the worries of the world into people.

James McCarthy was at wing back the last time they met Louth in the Championship. But he doesn’t seem to be too concerned about their league performances, just focusing on the road ahead.

“You learn from [defeats] as much as you can, but we go out to win every game.” he told the media this week.

“We always have the last couple of years and it served us really well, and it was no different this year. It just didn’t work out.”

“We broke up after the league, went back to the clubs and had a break, and now we are back working hard to get ready for the Leinster championship.”

One return, one retirement, for this year’s panel

During this year’s League, James found himself marking Tommy Walsh in their defeat to Kerry. He’s fully aware of the value of a full back and is more than happy to see Kilmacud Crokes Rory O’Carroll return to the Dublin panel this year. O’Carroll recently returned home after spending three year in New Zealand.

“I obviously played against Rory in the club championship game against Kilmacud and he was good against us that night.”

“He’ll add greatly to our already great set of backs. The competition has ramped up altogether now again.”

As one returns, another leaves, with Paul Flynn retiring from Inter County football recently. Paul spent eleven years in the senior set up and was a constant for Dublin. So James has played alongside him since his own debut and has nothing but praise for the Fingallians man.

“He really drove that team on for years. He’s going to be a big loss but you’ve got to respect the decision he’s made.”

“I won’t miss him too much, we used to go toe-to-toe a lot for many years and were knocking scalps out of each other in A vs B games,” he laughed.

Too many elephants, not enough time

It would have very hard for anyone to speak to James this week and not mention the two Elephants in the room, the first one being the speculated return of one Diarmuid Connolly. But the Ballymun Kickhams man did his best to move on and discuss something else.

“Diarmuid is a great player, (it would be) great to have him back.”

“You’ve just got to respect the decision there but it’s always an open door policy there. You’ll have to ask Jim that.”

So the five-in-a-row?

“All our focus is on the first game. Look, people are going to say it to you. Everyone knows it’s out there, people are going to wish you well, and that’s the perspective I take from it. It doesn’t add any extra pressure or any of that.”

“From our perspective we never actually ever talk about in-a-row and all that kind of stuff. We take every year as you can … league first, then championship. Same thing this year.

quotes: The Herald, the42