“From my bedroom I could see it coming down the road, registration ’90 D’ and I’d say, ‘oh balls’, so I’d go up to the attic and hide in a little boiler room up there.”
Michael Darragh MacAuley announced his retirement from Dublin earlier this week having won, wait for it, eight All-Irelands, 10 Leinster titles, five National Leagues, two All Stars and the 2013 Footballer of the Year award.
With his club, Ballyboden St. Enda’s, he won three Dublin club titles, two Leinster and the 2015/16 All-Ireland Club championship.
It isn’t an exaggeration to say that MacAuley is one of the most decorated footballers to ever play Gaelic football. But, it wasn’t always this way.
Michael Darragh MacAuley.
Speaking to Jim Carroll of Banter for the mental health charity First Fortnight a week before he announced his retirement, MacAuley was in great form in an open and honest interview about his relationship with the sport.
The Ballyboden midfielder spoke about hiding in the attic if he ever spotted the white Hiace, driven by his football coach in Ballyboden St Enda’s, heading towards his family home.
“From my bedroom I could see it coming down the road, registration 90D, and I’d say, ‘Oh balls.’ So, I’d go up to the attic and hide in a little boiler room up there,” he said.
“They’d all be screaming for me in the house. 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.”
Another GOAL for Dublin! Michael Darragh Macauley scores with the last play of the first half pic.twitter.com/At7SD9575u
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 13, 2019
MDMA, as he is affectionally known in Dublin GAA circles, wasn’t a big name at club level but did get called up for his first Dublin training session.
The 34-year-old remembers what Dublin forward Mossy Quinn thought of him when he first rocked up to the session.
“I wasn’t that big on the club scene, so people didn’t know me when I showed up,” MacAuley recalls.
“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.”
What he lacks in knowledge of the sport off the field, he makes up for with his on field energy, engine and enthusiasm in Dublin’s midfield.
Known to play basketball matches the night before All-Irelands, it’s quite refreshing to hear about a footballer who’s results on a GAA pitch didn’t define who he was off it.
No doubt he will be sorely missed.