Dublin football captain James McCarthy has ‘unfinished business’ and will play in 2023
Dublin’s hopes of winning back the Sam Maguire Cup in 2023 have been bolstered by confirmation that talisman captain James McCarthy will be available again.
McCarthy’s advancing years – he turns 33 next March – and recent injury struggles, missing much of the league and the Championship win over Cork, have left a question mark over his participation.
But the eight-time All-Ireland winner insisted he wanted to continue playing for “another year or two” and said he would have “unfinished business” to take care of next year.
It’s a major boost for Dublin boss Dessie Farrell, who himself recently agreed a new two-year deal in charge of the Sky Blues.
McCarthy remains a key figure for Dublin, playing the starring role in their narrow All-Ireland semi-final loss to Kerry, and is set to rise to their challenge for, first, promotion to Division 2 and then success. of the championship in 2023.
“I’m definitely planning to come back next season, I think there’s still a bit of unfinished business,” McCarthy said.
“I still enjoy my football, even though I’ve had too many injuries this year, but I really enjoy the training, the competition and the games.
“You’ll be done long enough so I’ll try to squeeze another year or two out of it if I can, that would be great.”
When asked what exactly ‘unfinished business’ means given he’s done it all at this point, McCarthy underlined his burning desire for another All Ireland victory.
“I still think we can win an All-Ireland title, that’s the truth,” the four-time All-Star said. “And that’s the target for next season. We’ll work really hard on it.
“Listen, we haven’t been good enough the last two seasons, that’s a fact. We lost two semi-finals and we were relegated from Division 1, but do I still think the group is good enough to compete for the top honours??Absolutely.And we hope to continue that momentum next season.
McCarthy, Fitzsimons and five other retired Dublin players each have eight All-Ireland medals, putting them on the same level in the all-time honor roll as five Kerry greats.
There’s no guarantee Fitzsimons will be back for 2023, so McCarthy could still be the only Dublin player lucky enough to reach nine wins.
He said that was not a great motivation.
“Not really to be honest. You know it’s there, but I still really enjoy playing football, I still really enjoy playing at this level and competing and that’s what drives me even more.”
The versatile McCarthy, with All-Stars in defense and midfield, sees no reason why he can’t continue to improve despite the move to veteran status.
“There are a lot of opinions when you’re over 30, but if you’re still enjoying it and you have the time and the hunger, there’s no reason you can’t compete,” said he declared.
“The way I see it is that I have 12 or 13 years of top coaching and I’m playing with a 20 year old guy, so that’s also an advantage for me. I don’t see not that as a limitation. It’s more in Your mind.”
The problem with advancing age and high mileage is the increased risk of injury and they have caught up with McCarthy this year.
His first National League start did not come until round six and he missed Cork’s game in the Championship with hamstring problems.
“I would be pretty diligent in my training, but I’ve had hamstring injuries this year that I would be annoyed with because I still think you can prevent them,” he said. “It’s the contacts that you can’t do anything about. So it was annoying to have muscle injuries. With all the modern technology we have now in training and how closely everything is watched, you don’t shouldn’t suffer muscle injuries like that.”
As for Dublin’s relegation earlier in the year, with five defeats in seven Division 1 league games, McCarthy blamed it on a bad frame of mind.
“I really think there was a hangover after the semi-final loss (2021) to Mayo,” he said. “We probably didn’t tackle it fast enough.
“The league campaign was a bad campaign for us, a lot of players had to watch each other carefully because we just weren’t performing, at the end.”
* James McCarthy was speaking at the launch of Dublin GAA sponsor AIG’s new ‘Injury Cash’ product. Research shows that a large number of people are left behind due to injuries sustained while playing sport at a non-elite level. See aig.ie/injurycash