One-on-One — James McCarthy

With three All-Ireland titles already to his name, Dublin wing-back JAMES MCCARTHY is well on his way to becoming one of the county’s most successful footballers ever — all at the age of just 26.

FACTFILE
Ainm as Gaeilge: Seamus MacCartaigh
Age: 26
Height: 6ft 1in
Position: Half-back/midfield/half-forward
Cul Rating:
Club: Ballymun Kickhams
County: Dublin
Honours:
All-Ireland senior (3)
Leinster senior (5)
NFL Div 1 (3)
All-Ireland U21 (1)
Leinster U21 (1)
Dublin senior club (1)
Leinster senior club (1)
Sigerson Cup (1)
All-Stars (1)

With Kevin O’Brien

@kevobrien7

JAMES ON:

Growing up with a famous dad…
My dad won three All-Irelands with Dublin in the 1970s and I grew up in a house where I heard all the stories and watched all the clips. The football was in the house fairly early on and as I got older I wanted to try and emulate and hopefully surpass him someday. It’s three-all now so we’ll see if I can beat him.

Starting out playing football in Ballymun…
Sport is great for kids. It kept me out of trouble, gave me that bit of discipline you need and I just loved it. I loved competing when I was younger, I loved playing sport and football was the one that caught my eye.

Watching the Dubs play in Croke Park as a kid…
Dad would have brought me down to Croke Park a fair bit. Unfortunately I used to watch the Dubs in not such a good era. We used to get beat in plenty of big games but I still went down and still always wanted to get out there myself. Watching on I kind of believed that I could do it myself as I got older.

Playing my first game for Dublin…
I played my first league match in 2010 down in Kerry. I was marking Paul Galvin. It was a good learning curve for me. He kicked two or three points off me. It was a tough debut, but I learned a lot from it and went straight from there really.

Nerves before playing in Croke Park…
When I was starting off I would be very nervous. It was a new feeling going to Croke Park on the big day and adapting to that noise is tough. But after a couple years, you kind of get the experience, you know the deal, you know what to expect. So it’s definitely easier as you get a bit older.

How I prepare mentally for a big game…
Half the battle is in your head. The week of the match you don’t want to be thinking about the game too much because that’ll wear you out. I try to relax. I’m a kind of amped up person so I try to keep under wraps. I go for walks and listen to music. The football is played on the pitch and not beforehand so you need to keep all your energy for on the pitch.

Playing in in an All-Ireland final…
I love the week of an All-Ireland final. It’s a big build up but you’ve all the hard work done. It’s important you enjoy it. I love the parade. Some people tell you not to be looking up into the crowd, but I look up and try and take it all in. These are some of the best days of your lives so you’ve got to live it as well.

Getting the right balance between family, work and sport…
Playing for Dublin is a massive part of my life but Jim Gavin is excellent to us. He always says, family and work first, and then football. You can’t get over-consumed with it because you’d get fed up. You have to strike the balance. We’re very fortunate in Dublin, we’re not flogged any night, we train two or three times a week and we have plenty of nights off as well so that helps. Any of the nights I have off I do something to try and keep my head off, like going to the cinema.

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