'I'm hoping to right that wrong this summer' - MDMA delighted to be back on form

Dublin’s Michael Darragh Macauley put a frustrating, injury-hampered 2017 behind him with an impressive league campaign.

Michael Darragh Macauley.
Michael Darragh Macauley.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

IT’S FAIRLY OBVIOUS that Michael Darragh Macauley has really savoured the 2018 National Football League campaign with Dublin.

The five-time All-Ireland winner and 2013 Footballer of the Year impressed in each of the Sky Blues’ eight games, starting in seven, and well and truly found his form after a frustrating, injury-hampered 2017.

The Ballyboden St Enda’s midfielder starred against Kerry in particular, and played his part in the 0-18 to 0-14 decider win over Galway in Croke Park.

“It was a good kickstart into the championship,” the two-time All-Star reflects.

“From a collective point of view, we give it socks every year to try and win the league. Yesteryear gone by, I think people may have used it as more of an experimental phase but we don’t really at all.

“No one can any more. I think the teams who perform well in the league go on to perform well in the championship and that’s a fairly obvious stat.

“Look, we went out to try and win every game — didn’t manage to to do that — but we managed to get the medal at the end of the day.

“Personally, it was nice to have a fully-functioning human body. I was able to get the minutes and yeah, it was nice. That’s the biggest thing an athlete wants, is just to be a functioning human being so it was nice to be able to get up and down.”

He’s evidently delighted to be back doing what he does best. Last year saw him face reduced playing time with Dublin, and much of that was down to injury.

Michael Darragh Macauley Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Maculey sustained a knee injury in the early part of the summer, adding to a troublesome foot problem, and was sidelined for quite some time.

He did recover to spring from the bench as a 57th-minute substitute in the All-Ireland quarter final against Monaghan, but that was to be his last inter-county appearance of the year as he was held in reserve for the semi-final and final.

“It’s hugely frustrating,” he says, when asked about dealing with those injuries.

“What we pride ourselves on being, from a sporting perspective, is top athletes and when you’re not able to perform at that level because you’re body isn’t going as it should be (it’s frustrating).

“Lewis Hamilton complains if his car isn’t going fast enough but I was complaining that mine wasn’t working like it should be. It wasn’t from a lack of anything I could have done. It was just… I was unlucky. That’s the way it goes.

“Mentally, you have to learn how to deal with these things and you do build up a bit of resilience and a bit of grit over that time. It gives you a bit of perspective as well on where you’re at with it.

“It’s something that I haven’t forgot. It wasn’t an enjoyable championship for me, but I’m hoping to right that wrong this summer.”

He adds that he did everything he could do to get back, and he did eventually, but time was the problem: “I was just training like a lunatic.

“I was being as productive as a human can be. I was doing everything. It was just a matter of time. I can definitely look back and be happy with the effort, it wasn’t for a lack of what I put into it, like.

“I did everything possible to get myself (right), and I did – I got myself back up to that place. But it was just too late, that was the only thing. Look, it’s hugely frustrating but every athlete has to deal with injuries. It’s part and parcel.

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Brendan Kealy and Michael Darragh Macauley Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I haven’t broke a fingernail this year, so I’m hoping it’ll stay that way.”

It’s all good at the moment, the 31-year-old assures, and he makes no secret of the fact that he’s really appreciative of being fully fit again.

He had a productive winter playing Super League basketball with Eanna and feels that that has really helped his football this year.

After a full club month in April, all focus now switches to the Leinster championship and Dublin’s bid for four in-a-row.

They’re currently preparing without the services of Diarmuid Connolly, with Gavin confirming last week that the St Vincent’s star ‘hasn’t been available’.

The door is open for a potential return though, and Macauley today echoed those words, but noted that it’s not something they’re focusing on.

“It’s unfortunate that we don’t have Diarmuid at the moment,” he said. “Not ruling it out for the summer but at the moment he’s not around so we’ll see how it plays out.

“We have players in every position that are willing to do a job. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your name is, there is a player beside that position who’s able to come in and fill your boots. Everyone has to be looking over their shoulder the whole time.

“It doesn’t matter if 20 lads walk away in the morning, we’re going to go to war with whatever lads are left. We’re gonna train like lunatics and prepare like lunatics to make sure that we perform in every game in Leinster and hopefully every game in the All-Ireland.

Diarmuid Connolly before the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“That’s just the way it goes. Lads are going to break their legs, lads are going to break their arms, lads are going to pull hamstrings, it’s going to happen. Who knows how the summer is going to unfold.

“We haven’t become over-reliant on anyone. Whatever about if we have in the past, we definitely aren’t at the moment. As grim as it sounds, we’re all very replaceable.”

Fanta Sandstorm is back with a bang for 2018, inviting the most adventurous thrill-seekers across Ireland to test their limits on the 5km beach run. Fanta’s Sandstorm will take place at Dublin’s Dollymount Strand on 9 June, before Kerry’s Ballyheigue Beach on 14 July. Tickets are on sale Monday 14 May at €15.

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Emma Duffy

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