Donall Farmer/INPHO
'Just grind through it': Players gambling with injury to fight for their place, says McCarthy
Allstar defender hopes to be back fighting for his Dubs jersey early next month.

FIERCE COMPETITION FOR inter-county jerseys is tempting GAA stars to gamble with their fitness, Dublin’s James McCarthy said.

The Allstar defender will be watching as the Dubs take on Donegal this Saturday evening and try to go some way towards making amends for last summer’s championship shock.

Instead McCarthy is sitting out the first few rounds of the Division 1 campaign as he recovers following surgery on a persistent groin injury.

Dublin’s trip to Kerry on 1 March is likely to come a bit too soon for him, with the Croke Park clash against Tyrone a week later pencilled in as the most likely date for his return.

While the two-time All-Ireland winner works back to full fitness, new faces like his Ballymun Kickhams team-mate John Small are trying to catch Jim Gavin’s eye and force their way into the half-back line.

McCarthy, who previously played through an ankle injury, admitted: “If you want to be playing, you can’t really afford to sit it out for a couple of weeks. Just grind through it.

“Of course you would [worry about losing your place],” he added. “The competition is great down there at the moment.

“If you’re out too long, you’d be under pressure to get your place back. You just try and get back as soon as you can.”

Ballygowan & Energise Sport Unveiled as New Official Hydration Partners of Dublin GAA Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE McCarthy and Dubs boss Jim Gavin announced Ballygowan and Energise Sport as the official hydration partners of Dublin GAA this week. Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

McCarthy first noticed the injury — Gilmore’s Groin — in the summer of 2013 as Dublin won their second All-Ireland title in three seasons.

It was a hectic year for him on either side of that victorious campaign, with Ballymun making a run to the All-Ireland club finals before losing to St Brigid’s of Roscommon, and then to the Dublin county final later that autumn.

It’s no surprise then that McCarthy is in favour of the proposal to run off all competitions within the calendar year.

It starts off as a little injury and then you keep playing on it and make it worse and worse and worse.

“It’d be great if that came in, finishing the club finals in the first week of December. It’d be brilliant like. Whether it will happen or not, we’ll see.

“It’d give you that time, a month or two off. Even if you got to the club final, it’d give you the few weeks at Christmas. You’re training and playing games all year.”

Dublin began the year as favourites for both league and championship and McCarthy says there was no need to rip up the blueprint and start following the defeat to Donegal.

“It’s not the end of the world. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There’s a few things we need to tweak. We have a way of playing, we have a philosophy, and we’re not going to overly change it.

“We’ve won five out of six competitions so we’re doing alright.

“We had one bad day in a big game.”

The GAA didn’t make as much extra revenue as you’d think from last year’s Sky media deal

What do Dublin hope to get out of the National Football League this season?

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