MIDFIELDER MICHAEL DARRAGH MacAuley is hoping a good National League campaign this year will set Dublin up nicely for another tilt at the Sam Maguire later this year.
The Ballyboden St Enda’s man was present at Setanta Sports HQ yesterday afternoon to help launch the station’s coverage of the league and he insisted the Dubs — who lost their All-Ireland crown last year — will be a lot more keyed in this time around.
MacAuley — an All-Star midfielder in his time — was stationed higher up the Croke Park pitch as Mayo ended the champions’ title defence last August, but he insists Pat Gilroy’s decision had little bearing on the outcome.
“[L]ook, it actually worked for us,” said MacAuley yesterday. “It got blown out of proportion. If I had played midfield in the semi, we still wouldn’t have won it. It wasn’t that simple as that at all. It was what we did in the first half. But the way we were training, and the way we were playing, I was at centre forward, simple as that. Lads are just looking for easy excuses as to why we didn’t win it. And it wasn’t as simple as me switching positions.”
MacAuley instead insists that the reasons for the Dubs’ unimpressive season was more deep seated than positional switches.
“A whole host of things. We’ve met up a lot since after, tried to out our finger on it,” he says. “I think we didn’t realise it at the time, but lads heads just weren’t as clued in as much as the year before, simple as that. I knew we’d struggle with that early in the year, but thought we’d get our heads together. But in talking to people, all the panel, everyone’s heads weren’t in the right place at the right time. Everything has to be 100%.
“If one player is off, and we had a few players not hitting full whack last year, that’s all it takes. It’s only a matter of inches in winning in All-Ireland, really is,” he added.
Since that defeat to James Horan’s side, Dublin have parted ways with All-Ireland winning manager, Gilroy, of course. And MacAuley has been impressed with the new man at the top of the team bus, Jim Gavin.
“He’s very straight forward. There is no messing about with him. He’s very fair,” he says. “There are a lot of lads who were playing well at club level over the years who argued maybe that they deserved the chance and I think the vast majority of them have gotten a shot under Pat or Jim. There are no excuses.”