James McCarthy relishes Dublin's road trips
By Eoghan Tuohey
Influential Dublin star James McCarthy is enjoying a well-earned break before the Jim Gavin’s team begin their quest for a place in football folklore in 2019.
The Ballymun Kickhams clubman is trying to use the time afforded to him to recover sufficiently ahead of the new campaign next year.
“Yeah, absolutely enjoying the off season,” McCarthy says. “I’m doing nothing at the moment, really. We’ll probably get together around the end of December, but at the moment, I’d rather not have this time off, would have liked to have gone on a bit further with the club than we did. But, yeah, taking some time off to let the body heal and just to rest up before the new season kicks in.”
McCarthy was quick to praise the new Championship structures, as he was to clarify how much this Dublin side, perhaps contrary to a public perception, enjoy and thrive on travelling to county grounds outside of the capital, they relish the challenge of such games, and only wish to see the frequency of these fixtures increase.
“A lot of people were giving out, but I think it was good that it’s being changed,” McCarthy admits. “Obviously there’s a small bit of tweaking that can still be done. Look at the hurling, it’s been better again. Obviously, they’re giving out that they didn’t have enough rest periods between games and stuff. But it’s the first year of change for both structures, but I think it’s heading in the right direction of doing something like that.”
“One of the most enjoyable games we had last year was going up to Omagh and playing in Omagh. It was brilliant – a great atmosphere. Local crowd, tight pitch. We’d love to do it more. Even the away games in the League, they’re the games you really look forward to. They’re the games that excite you. If you got a couple more of them, it’d be great.
“It’s the way people want it to go. This kind of round-robin, back and forth games, home and away games, eventually going to knock out.
“I think it’s something that was good, to get excited about some great games, like Kerry up in Monaghan, we were up in Tyrone, you had Galway-Kerry. That’s what people wanted. If we get more of them, then that would be great.”
Ballymun Kickhams were All-Ireland club runners up in 2012, and for a hotbed of Dublin county talent, they would have been disappointed to exit the championship at the quarter final stage to St. Jude’s. McCarthy looks on the bright side, exiting the Championship has allowed him the time to have minor knee surgery done, and will grant him the recovery period necessary to be back to full fitness for the league campaign in 2019.
“Yeah it does (show the competitiveness of the Dublin championship). Look, we lost to St. Jude’s in a quarter final. They deserved to beat us on the day. We were kind of sucker-punched in the end, but that’s the luck of the draw. There’s very little between the eight or nine main teams in the championship.”
Avoiding complacency is a challenge for this Dublin team, such is the aura of invincibility they seem to carry themselves with. And yet, as McCarthy explains, it comes down to the attitudes of individuals, and then uniting these individual attitudes to form a cohesive, collective mind-set.
“It comes personally for us, then as a team. I can harper back to 2014 and 2012, to games where we got caught in semi-finals, and were beaten fair and square. They’re always in your mind, fresh, to keep you sharp, you don’t want that feeling again. It’s a tough feeling to take. Even the League final a few years ago, against Kerry, we were beaten by a point, which was a tough one to take, we were going for five leagues in a row that time. Its memories like that that give you the dose of reality that you need to keep you sharp.”