Reigning All Ireland Senior Football champions Dublin will not be hitting the panic button just yet, despite defeats in two of their opening four games in this season’s competition.
That’s the strong message from Michael Darragh Macauley, selected at midfield for this weekend’s clash with Donegal in one of four changes to the Dubs starting 15 made by Pat Gilroy.
Philly McMahon returns from suspension in place of James McCarthy, with Cian O’Sullivan coming for Darren Daly in the back line.
Kevin Nolan gets the nod at wing back with Macauley and Eamonn Fennell continuing in midfield. Tomás Quinn starts ahead of Paul Brogan at corner-forward.
Dublin made the Division 1 League final last year and while they came up short to Cork on the day, they bagged a bigger prize in September, and Macauley believes the right groundwork is going into trying to mount a successful defence of the Sam Maguire.
“Training-wise, everything is coming along to plan”, says the Ballyboden St. Enda’s clubman.
“You want to get a good platform in the League and get a couple of victories.”
“You have to have lads coming into the panel and pushing for their places, which is a huge aspect of what we do. We have a really strong panel, 30-35 players coming in and we have very intense training games.”
“It was one of the secrets to our success last year”, insists Macauley.
This weekend the Dubs will be looking to build some spring momentum starting with repeating last season’s All-Ireland semi-final success, when they managed to break down the notorious Donegal defence for tight 0-8 to 0-6 victory.
That result was especially sweet for Macauley: “I have a lot of family in Donegal and my Dad is from Donegal so I was getting a bit of grief before the game off the cousins. It was nice to get one over on them and keep them quiet for another year.”
The Dublin star along with several other high profile players is one of the GAA ambassadors promoting awareness of the need to seek medical advice in the case of head injury organised by Acquired Brain Injury Ireland. For more information see www.abi.ie