It's been a good summer for Michael Darragh Macauley.

The Ballyboden St Enda's man has re-established himself in a winning Dublin team, two years after his lost summer when injury disrupted his season.

It meant less than 20 minutes of football against Monaghan in the knockout stages of the 2017 All-Ireland championship, as he missed out on game time in the semi-final and final.

2018 was busier, although he was once again restricted to substitute appearances in the last two games against Galway and Tyrone, as the four-in-a-row was completed.

This summer has been a different story though. He started against Kildare in the Leinster Championship, as well as Cork and Roscommon in the Super 8s, while also seeing significant game time against Meath in the provincial final, and away to Tyrone in the dead rubber in Omagh.

It culminated in a semi-final start against Mayo, and the two-time All-Star says he's enjoying the game once again.

"At the moment, it's all good," admits Macauley.

"I've been all over, I've been struggling to get in. Who knows what's going to happen before the next game?

"2017 was a struggle. I was coming back from a lot of injuries, so it didn't work out for me. That happens as an athlete. I haven't had a scratch this year, not a broken nail to report fortunately.

"So we're just looking forward to the big one now."

The squad selection for the semi-final win over James Horan's side showed just how ruthless Jim Gavin can be.

Stalwarts of the Dublin set-up over the years like Bernard Brogan and Eoghan O'Gara were over-looked, as was returning full-back Rory O'Carroll.

O'Gara and Brogan didn't make the semi-final squad

Diarmuid Connolly, who had plans to travel to play football in Boston this summer as late as June, started on the bench and was introduced before the end.

"Everyone wants to be on the pitch," Macauley tells RTÉ Sport

"That's why you play football. You're not there to be a spectator. It's even tougher if people aren't getting on the bus.

"People might think that everyone's skipping and dancing to training every day, and enjoying every minute of it. The truth is that there are probably 15 lads who are really enjoying it, and there are other lads who are struggling. They're trying to get form."

"I have more empathy than most for this sort of stuff because I think I've been nearly every number on this squad at some stage.

"I'm aware of how fickle this football shindig can be."

As Dublin prepare for a potentially historic All-Ireland final on Sunday, discussions about their funding won't go away.

Should they achieve the five-in-a-row on Sunday, the numbers pointing towards the disparity in funding are likely to swell further.

But Macauley says too much is made of it.

"Look, we're just playing football. I don't get lost in it. I don't check our balance sheets; I've no interest in it, to be honest.

"There'll always be haters in life, in general. There'll always be cynics, and the less of those people the better."

If anyone is likely to stop Dublin, it's Kerry. The game's most successful county completed their own five-in-a-row last year, at minor level.

Keane's Kerry beat Dublin in the Allianz League in February

The man behind three of those successes, Peter Keane, is now the senior manager, and the younger players he's brought in don't have the baggage of four straight Championship defeats to the Metropolitans.

"They know how to beat us, they did it in the league," says Macauley.

"They'll have that confidence going into the game. They'll know it's a doable task.

"It does make it a bit more special., there's no hiding away from it. There's been a big rivalry over the last number of decades, and we've only been involved in the latest couple of chapters.

"Everyone knows about the 70s carry on, and we've had some big ones over the last couple of years as well."

Follow the All-Ireland football final via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, listen live on RTÉ Radio 1's Sunday Sport, or watch the Sunday Game on RTÉ2 from 2.15pm.