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'As tough as teak' - Dubs defender back on track after injury-plagued summer

James McCarthy is fighting fit as Mayo await.

James McCarthy celebrates Dublin's semi-final win over Kerry.
James McCarthy celebrates Dublin's semi-final win over Kerry.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

AFTER A SUMMER marred by injuries, the outlook has changed for Dublin defender James McCarthy.

The 2014 All-Star began this year in exceptional fashion and figured in early season chat about potential Footballers of the Year.

However a medial knee ligament injury struck him down before the Leinster final and he watched on for that win over Westmeath along with the quarter-final success against Donegal.

The thunderous semi-final against Kerry represented a return for McCarthy. He lined out, made a typically large impact and Dublin triumphed.

Now an All-Ireland final awaits against Mayo and the Ballymun man’s fitness is part of a clean bill of health that Dublin manager Jim Gavin can report on.

“James is as tough as teak,” outlined Gavin.

“He had been training well coming into the quarter-final, we could have played him if we had to but thankfully we didn’t to give him another week.

“But you saw his mobility on the pitch (against Kerry), that’s what he was demonstrating in the weeks leading up to that game.

“(We’ve) no injury concerns (now) with the exception of Shane Carty from Naomh Mearnog in Portmarnock, but he’s returning this weekend so he’s the last back.

“But it’s looking good and the boys are training well.”

Mayo are the roadblock Dublin must negotiate to keep a hold of Sam Maguire for another twelve months. They saw them off in the 2013 final and a 2015 semi-final replay, and for all of Mayo’s struggles at the start of the summer, their presence in September does not surprise Gavin.

Kevin McManamon scores his side's third goal Kevin McManamon shoots to the net for Dublin against Mayo. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Good teams get to finals and they are a good team. You don’t come into an All-Ireland final under the radar. They have earned all their victories along the way and learned a lot from it. They have been right up there in the past.

“Any time we have played them from ’13 to last year, even up in Castlebar this February there wasn’t a bounce of a ball between us. I’m sure there will be a bounce of a ball again between us again.”

“It’s a very mature team and they have learned a lot. Over the last number of games in the qualifier series, it has benefited them.

“They’ve got a run now and tightened things up defensively. They have introduced a few younger players from their ’21 squad so it doesn’t surprise me.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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