The Ballymun Kickhams player was nursing a sore calf, a painful hip and a crooked shoulder the morning after the day before. He had reckoned on Sunday that the game against Mayo had been the toughest he had played and the aches and pains confirmed as much.
He must have forgotten what that was like. The worry for Dublin leading into this latest decider was the ease with which they had gone that far.
Blowouts are all well and good from June through August but they needed a hit-out before Mayo and it fell to their own to provide one. With a week to go to the final, the squad met at their training base at St Clare’s and the ‘B’s clipped the ‘A’ team by a point in a game that McCarthy described as “spiky”.
He himself spent a less than enjoyable 70 butting heads with Michael Darragh Macauley.
“They gave us a good rattle,” McCarthy explained yesterday. “They got well stuck into us. I suppose you tip the hat to the guys, they’re trying to prepare us for what is coming. There was plenty of needle.”
He has no doubt but that it primed the starters for the storm to follow. “It did, yeah, because you’re in a foul humour for a few days after. You’re kind of thick about it. But it does, it helps you to prepare for it. Preparation is massive at this level.”
This was McCarthy’s fifth All-Ireland senior medal and two of them have been claimed on the back of final victories over Kerry.
Mayo were the final hurdle in the other three and every time the Dub’s have won by just one point.No coincidence, said McCarthy.“I don’t think it’s by chance we win these games by a point. We’ve won too many of them at this stage to call it luck.” He’s right.
Yet again Mayo ensured that Dublin played well short of their best in an All-Ireland final and yet again Jim Gavin and his squad recalibrated to cater for the nature of the challenge before pulling through at the finish.
“The views of our team ... we always go for it, win or lose, at the end. We always say we are going to cut loose first. I hate the feeling - it’s happened me over the years - coming off the pitch when you think you should have done that or you should have done this. It’s a horrible feeling. We didn’t play well in the first-half and we said we’d have a crack at this. Go at the game, attack them, and that made all the difference. The two lads coming on, Diarmuid (Connolly) and Kevin (McManamon), they settled us down, got on a bit of ball up front and took the pressure off the back line.
That had a big bearing on us getting over the line.”