'Drive for Five' hype no distraction for McCarthy
By John Harrington
James McCarthy insists the Dublin footballers won’t be distracted by the rising hype around their bid for a historic fifth All-Ireland SFC in a row.
They begin their campaign tomorrow when they play Louth in the Leinster SFC quarter-final, and with every step on the journey they take thereafter the buzz about the possibility of becoming the first team to complete a ‘Drive for Five’ will grow and grow.
McCarthy admits he can’t help but notice that the county’s supporters are excited about the potential history in the offing, but he’s adamant the players won’t allow that to affect their focus.
“From our perspective we never look at anything 'in a row'”, said McCarthy. “We always just focus on the year to come. We're in 2019 now and there's going to be all that talk around.
“People mean well, people are excited, and that's just part and parcel of it and we have to deal with it.
“We've always looked at it that first up is the O'Byrne Cup, then the League, then it's the first game of the Leinster Championship, and that attitude has served us well.
“That's the path we're taking again this year, but, look, there's obviously a lot of excitement out there and people want to stop you in the street and talk to you.
“That's just the way it is but we have plenty of experience and we'll deal with it, we've dealt with it before.
“You just stay close to your team-mates and focus on what we can do and what we can control. That's what we've done in the past and it's served us well so that's what we'll do.”
The Offaly team of ’82 will always be famous for stopping Kerry’s bid for five All-Irelands in a row.
If another team could derail Dublin in the same manner this year they too would be indelibly inked in the annals of GAA history.
McCarthy knows their rivals would love nothing more than to take them down a peg this year, but that simply motivates him all the more.
“Because you're the one getting chased all the time, you're always trying to raise the bar,” he said.
“It keeps you sharp, you know teams really want to try and catch you, take you down and beat you.
“I've always tried to sit down each year and ask, 'How can I improve? How can I get better? What do I need to get better at? What do we need to get better at as a team?
“What do we need to keep doing well? All them little things and they all add up then to hopefully a good performance in games.
“I'm long in the tooth now and I've played in a good few campaigns. I know how to get the body ready and get the mind ready for action.
“For me, it's just trying to avoid injuries and little things like that and staying fit. Looking after yourself and once I do those things they give me confidence that I'm ready to go and play football and matches.
“The more games you play I always find the better football you play so it's just about trying to keep the body right.”
McCarthy is convinced that he’s just as hungry for success this year as any other, and when he looks around the Dublin dressing-room he sees the same unity of purpose mirrored in all of his team-mates.
“Lads in the team are very close,” he said. “Naturally, you're with each other so much. I think we are genuine friends. Even before a lot of guys played with Dublin, we were in college together.
“It's just a very tight team and that helps in the white heat of big games or when the big moments in games are coming and you need to put something in the bag.
“We would be a very close team and we push each other very hard all the time which is a big plus.”