Dublin’s senior footballers will have to adapt in 2021 without the services of Michael Darragh Macauley and Paul Mannion, joining Paddy Andrews in stepping away from the panel.
For Macauley, he has formally hung up his inter-county boots after an incredible 11-year career in blue. He joined the panel in 2010, playing a key role in Dublin’s All-Ireland success the following season.
That was the first of a record-equalling eight All-Ireland medals while he departs the inter-county stage having also won ten Leinster titles and five National Football Leagues.
His impressive displays earned him the Footballer of the Year award in 2013. He claimed the second of his two All-Star awards the same year, the first coming in 2011.
In tribute to his career, his club described him this week as “a warrior on the pitch and a gentleman off it, his sheer determination and fierce drive has propelled him to a medal haul of epic proportions!”
It brings to a close a fascinating career of a player who never envisaged himself as a county star growing up, not least – as he joked on a recent Banter podcast released a week before his retirement – as he used to hide in the attic to avoid going to matches with basketball his first love.
“They’d all be screaming for me in the house,” he said. My Dad would check and say, ‘Oh, he must have gone out to a basketball match or something.’
“When they left I’d go back down to bed. So, I had a bit of disturbed relationship with football for a while.
“Someone sent me photographs recently of me as a child playing, and I always had basketball shorts on playing Gaelic. I also wore a baseball cap for most of the games.”
Indeed, Joe Brolly – in the Sunday Independent – recounted a similar story of his first call-up to the county panel.
“I don’t remember this but Mossy Quinn claims I wore long basketball shorts, down over my knees, at my first Dublin session and people were saying, ‘Who’s this fella?’
“It’s funny in life, the little opportunities. Things could have gone badly that day and that might have been the end of it.
“Persevering with things is great but there are little moments, and so many of them have fallen in my favour.”
Despite those early inhibitions, it soon set the tone for a remarkable career and a place in Dublin folklore with his influence likely to be felt off the pitch through his work as an initiative sports and engagement manager in the north inner city.
Kilmacud Crokes man Paul Mannion, meanwhile, has opted out of the panel for 2021 season for the time-being.
Confirming he was taking a break, Dublin GAA said: “We would like to thank Paul for all the time and commitment he gave to Dublin GAA at all grades and we wish him well as he concentrates on developing his career outside of inter-county football.”
The 27-year-old has been a pivotal figure in the Dublin forward line, landing All-Stars in 2017, 2018 and 2019, playing his part in six All-Ireland successes and seven Leinster championship titles.