“Strike while the iron’s hot or forever regret it,” is the battle cry from Ballyboden St Endas’ Michael Darragh Macauley ahead of tomorrow’s All-Ireland club semi-final.
The 2013 footballer of the year may only be 29 but he is realistic enough to know a second chance of making an All-Ireland final will not come around again for this group of players.
“I’ve said it before that semi-finals are the worst rounds to lose and I’ll stand by that. I never had the experience of getting to an All-Ireland club (final) and lose the final but it would be special just to even get into the bullring of Paddy’s Day.
“This team is making sure we’re absolutely leaving no stone unturned.
“It comes down to the management team, Andy McEntee and the lads, who have put in very professional set-up in place and really try to make it feel as professional as possible to go after things.
“This team will never get to an All-Ireland semi-final ever again. That’s the facts of it; it never will. There are going to be lads retiring, lads with injuries, a whole load of new faces coming in so this team has to grasp this experience and try and maximise it and we will try and do that by being one point ahead of Clonmel after 60 minutes on the 13th of February.”
Macauley has sought the advice of the likes of St Vincent’s pair Diarmuid Connolly and Ger Brennan who have quite regularly been in the situation he now finds himself. They had simply told him to enjoy it.
Although going from playing so frequently before Christmas, tomorrow’s game has been difficult.
“The schedule is madness. It is long and there are peaks and troughs throughout and that’s more on the management side of things trying to get the team firing on all cylinders come game-day.”
The midfielder admits the journey to this point has allowed him to get to know his clubmates better.
“Winning always builds a bit of camaraderie around teams and definitely I wouldn’t have said I was as tight with the younger players that came onto the team at the start of the season but now it’s a very strong unit and there are some great lads that I didn’t know about at the start of the year.”
Macauley sure values benefitting from Paul Durcan’s kick-outs as opposed to trying to foil them at county level. The Donegal goalkeeper has returned from working in Qatar to face Clonmel Commercials.
“It’s nicer working with them,” he says of Durcan’s restarts. “Paul’s top class.
“I probably didn’t appreciate how good those kick-outs were until he was kicking them straight into my hands from about 60 yards.”
Dublin manager Jim Gavin’s children are involved in the club and Gavin himself helps out with coaching with their teams. Regardless, Macauley has no concerns that Boden’s extended run may impact on his chances when he returns to the county set-up.
“I’m relaxed and taking it as it is. I’ve clear communication with Jim and I’ve a plan in place that’s working very well. I’m sticking with Ballyboden for the majority of it.
“Look it, you spend enough time living in the Dublin lads’ pockets all year so it’s great to get a bit of a break. I’m going to see them for the rest of the year hopefully if Jim gives me the shout. It’s good. It’s a nice time of year.”
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