By Aaron Dunne
THERE’S a sometimes popular derision certain snooty football folk from outside the capital like to throw around on their visits to the ‘Big Smoke’: “Can someone even be considered a footballer if he never really kicks the ball?”
It’s petty, at best. Bitter, at worst. Ignorant either way. If Kerry had 15 ‘Gooches’, or Tyrone a team of Peter Canavans, they wouldn’t have won what they did.
One of Dublin’s greatest sporting heroes, Ballyboden St Enda’s Michael Darragh Macauley, was often tarred with the that dismissive brush. Yet his record speaks for itself – there have only ever been 26 Footballer of the Year award winners, and Dublin’s MDMA is one of them.
Nine Celtic Crosses, 10 Leinster SFC medals, five NFLs, two All-Stars and that richly deserved Footballer of the Year award in 2013 would be enough to cement any Hall of Fame legacy. Yet that was just Macauley’s career in a Dublin jersey.
The Páirc Uí Murchú midfielder also won three Dublin club SFCs, two Leinster Clubs and a coveted All-Ireland SFC title with his beloved Ballyboden, which finally arrived in 2016. Can’t kick? The man was a baller.
Aside from that ‘Notorious’ fella, Dublin have always been blessed with heroes of outstanding character – and the man affectionately known as ‘Mick’ the perfect example. A primary school teacher, community activist, and a man this scribe has often seen in amongst the people in the stands of Parnell Park at Ballyboden hurling matches. Being a great club person is the highest praise that can be bestowed upon a GAA person.
It speaks as highly about a person’s moral fibre As a parent, it’s sometimes important to stop and think who your kids look up to and aspire to be. If my little boy ends up anything like Mick, then I’ll rest happy.
TG4 revealed this week that they had upped their prime time market share by two per cent in 2021 – and that isn’t surprising considering the quality of programming they provide the GAA community in particular.
The latest edition of their flasgship documentary series Laochra Gael goes to air tonight, and Macauley could not be a more deserving recipient of such an honour.
As the programme’s promotional notes read: “From background and style, MacAuley was not the typical GAA player, and always defied convention or description.
“He endured tragedy in his youth with the loss of his mother, and again when his father died a year after he won his first championship.
“He overcame his troubles to become the heartbeat of the greatest team of all time.
“He retired with nine All-Ireland medals in his pocket and a vision to spread the benefits of sport across the city that he loves.”
Featured in the show – directed by Ronan O’Donoghue – are Macauley himself of course, former Dublin team-mate and GPA chief Paul Flynn; opponents Tom Parsons of Mayo and Galway’s Gary Sice as well as Irish Times journalist Sean Moran.
The show airs at 9.30pm tonight on the home of grassroots GAA programming on this island.
Some people say you should never meet your heroes – more than likely the same people who believe kicking a ball is all there is to football. Don’t miss it.
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