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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 22 April, 2019
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'It means absolutely nothing to me, we're just looking forward to getting out of Croke Park'

As Dublin prepare for their first away championship fixture since 2006, Michael Darragh Macauley insists it’s just another game for the players.

The Dubs star says he's excited ahead of the championship campaign.
The Dubs star says he's excited ahead of the championship campaign.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

IT’S ALREADY ONE of the talking points of the championship summer but Michael Darragh Macauley insists the significance of Dublin’s trip to Nowlan Park ‘means absolutely nothing’ to him.

Jim Gavin’s side will open their Leinster championship defence against Laois at the Kilkenny venue on 4 June, after it was decided Dublin would play their quarter-final outside of the capital.

It will be the All-Ireland champions’ first championship game outside Croke Park since 2006 and while he admits it’s a big deal for the fans, Macauley says the players haven’t even given the venue a moment’s thought.

“It means absolutely nothing to me,” he said yesterday, when asked would all the talk of Dublin playing outside HQ motivate him.

“I’m just speaking for myself but I don’t think it is going to motivate me or do anything for me, it’s just something new. I haven’t even thought about the pitch dimensions. It comes down to how we play our football.

“There’s no sense of trepidation or anxiousness, we’re just looking forward to getting out of Croke Park, going for a road trip and hopefully playing a bit of football in the sun in Nowlan Park. It’s going to be raining isn’t it?

“It is [a big deal] because we’re looking forward to it. It’s something exiting. All the Dublin fans are talking about it, friends, all booked tickets, make a weekend of it, with the Cat Laughs [comedy festival] as well.”

Michael Darragh MacAuley Macauley was speaking at the launch of Skill Zone in Stillorgan. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The match will be played exactly a decade since Dublin’s last away championship outing, when they faced Longford in Pearse Park.

“It was a great day, me and all my friends went down and it was a great day,” Macauley recalls, who was at the game as a 19-year-old supporter.

“The place was packed and it was probably 10,000 over capacity that day. It was one of the nicest days of the year and Dublin got over the hurdle in the end though they stumbled along the way.

“It was a great day out and Dublin supporters still talk about that day as being a great road trip. They do it during the league but it’s never the same so I think it’s great.”

Dublin will be hoping to avoid a similar scare in a fortnight’s time as Gavin’s men go in search of a sixth successive Leinster crown.

All the build-up has revolved around Dublin’s invincibility and who can possibly stop them in their quest to lift Sam Maguire again this weekend.

The immediate focus is on Leinster and the Dubs’ dominance and Macauley believes the day the players get complacent will be the day they slip-up.

“Lads are just focused,” he says. “We’ve been successful in Leinster over the last few years but that’s only because we’ve tried to maintain our own standards and focus on just the hurdle in front of us.

“The day you start talking about a Leinster semi-final or a Leinster final is the day that we’re going to get caught or we’re soon to be caught.

Declan Lally of Dublin keeps his eye on the ball Dublin were given a huge scare 10 years ago. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“It’s probably one of the strengths of this team that we’ve been able to focus on what’s been in front of us and you’ve heard the cliches coming from a million athletes that they don’t look past their next race or whatever it is but once you’re caught day dreaming you’re gone like.”

After missing the entire league campaign, the midfielder returned to action for the demolition of Kerry in the final.

With a busy summer ahead, the Ballyboden St Endas man says he’s fit and raring to go.

“I was only kind of scraping my way back for the final,” he admits. “I nearly feel a bit guilty because the lads have been working their socks off all year and I only scraped in for the last five minutes to rob a medal.

“To be honest, I picked up a knock in the All-Ireland club final so I only got back for that (league final). So I probably wasn’t 100% injury wise, fitness wise, but it was fine, it was grand, it was good to get back wearing a blue jersey.

“I’ve had a real nice break since then and I’m just excited, looking forward, there’s no kind of lethargy looking forward to the new season, just kind of more excitement.”

Skill Zone, Dublin’s first and only multi-sport indoor attraction, is now open for booking on www.SkillZone.ie

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