McCarthy would relish return to old style football championship
Even in an emergency lockdown, Dublin football star James McCarthy can’t sit still.
The garden is pristine having been cut, strimmed, and weeded while his makeshift gym in the shed is looking a little more sophisticated.
He is able to complete work for AIB at home although it has taken time to grow accustomed to the ‘new normal’.
The Dublin star has parks with municipal pitches to train on within the regulated 2km of his home but regardless, the cabin fever is real.
He’s well aware his is a first world problem but he misses football dearly.
“It’s just weird. It is a weird vibe. It’s strange what’s going on everywhere. I’m just lucky where I live, I have three parks around the corner from me. So I can go to Poppintree Park, I can go to Albert College. I can go to Johnstown Park to do a bit of running or to kick a bit of ball.
“But it’s weird not training with a group. A week or two is fine. You’re nearly happy not to be seeing them all the time. But after that, you get the itch. Especially at this time of year, when it’s starting to head towards the summer. You love training at this time of year.
“Obviously for the first while, you’re tipping away but when you go to five, six, seven weeks without the group, it’s very hard.
“There are times you are going to lose motivation because that’s natural and when you do miss training for a day it’s about getting back on the horse as soon as you can. It’s normal to have those bad days.
“You just have to plan your weeks and days. That’s the best way, I find but it is a big challenge and the longer you’re away from the group the more you miss training.
“So it’s going to be tough the next few weeks. You can take the positives out of it. You can rest up and let the body heal up and different things so there are advantages to it as well.”
Time, though, is not on McCarthy’s side as much as it is some of his team-mates. His glittering career has provided him with more than he could have imagined but he’s aware of his football mortality having turned 30 last month, just a couple of days before his Ballymun Kickhams and county team-mate Dean Rock. “It’s kind of scary when you get to that mark and how fast the years have gone by in the blink of an eye. We’re around 10 or 11 years now so we’re getting plenty of stick from the younger guys! They like letting us know we’re 30 anyway.”
His seniority was one of the reasons why Dessie Farrell made him captain during the Allianz League but McCarthy himself suspects he was only minding the armband for Stephen Cluxton before the goalkeeper returned from shoulder surgery.
What type of a football championship awaits them all remains to be seen. A return to the old style knockout system is being touted. McCarthy has no issues if that is the call.
“I think everyone is just crying out for football now. Yeah, it should be fairly exciting if that was the case. It would be a throwback to the 90s and 80s, I suppose.
“If that’s the way it went, I think it would be no problem from our side. It would be exciting and I think it would be a great championship as well.”
For now though, it’s a waiting game, although McCarthy is cognisant things are more pressing work-wise for colleagues like medics Jack McCaffrey and Mick Fitzsimons and the team doctors. “They’re obviously going through a very hard time at the moment and the hospitals are starting to get really busy. They’d be in touch with the lads, they’re great, and lads would be asking them questions and stuff. They’re there to help out, they’re brilliant.
“We have our team doctors as well who are really busy in Beaumont and Mater Hospital. Kieran O’Malley and Diarmuid Smyth are doing unbelievable work so we just try and give them as much support as you can. The respect they’d have amongst everyone in the group is huge and they’d be sending out emails to guys in the larger group with updates and advice to adhere to.”