"Plenty of lads in the Cavan dressing room, me included, would tell you where to go"
They don't make 'em like Cian Mackey anymore.
Flame-headed and grizzly. Raw and stocky. Uncompromising, thoroughly uncompromising.
Looks like he'd go through you for a shortcut. Like he'd eat you without salt.
He could do, mind. But most of the time, he doesn't need to.
Beats you with skill and genius instead. Mackey's is deceptive, his genius and skill, but it is alive. Oh it's alive. It's living large within those broad shoulders and those pistols for legs.
He was a gifted soccer player too you know. Himself and Marty Reilly were brought up to Home Farm as youngsters. You're getting the drift now. One of those lads who just has it.
What is it exactly? Hard to pin it down, but broadly and nowhere near as vividly as the joy of seeing Mackey play, it's the knack for changing a game. The drop of the shoulder. The killer pass. Holding onto the ball that split second longer than others would. And then it opens up.
Cian Mackey knows what he's doing and how he's going to do it.
For 15 years he's been at it.
Cian Mackey is not your typical modern day inter-county player. Most of them know all about it. The inter-county mindset. He arrived long before.
Instead, Mackey is like the brilliant club player who never got a chance with the county.
But Mackey did. And took it too. Since 2005, Mackey has been wearing the blue and white jersey and they've been blessed.
An ever-present, a stalwart, a game-changer and an orchestrator. Mackey has the attitude for it too.
For the first time in his career, 2019 saw Mackey consigned to the bench for the big games. In a brilliant interview with Colm Parkinson after his beloved Castlerahan's second triumph in a row, he gave an insight into his role this year for Cavan, and how he reacted to it.
And it's how every sub should be.
"Look it, every player trains to start. You don't train to sit on the bench. But as a group of players, you do what's best for the team and management. As much as you don't want to be sitting on the bench and playing a bit part, you do everything you can to help the boys over the line...This year was no different. Every time I came on, I tried to make a difference and help the boys the best I could.
"If you're happy sitting on the bench, you're as well being at home..."
"Has the psychology changed though," wonders Colm Parkinson. "I'd have a face on me back in the days when you might not get on," he added.
Mackey wouldn't put up with that.
"If you've that mentality, you're no good to any group of players. If you're going around with a frown on you, there's plenty of lads in the Cavan dressing room me included would tell you where to go. If you're going around cribbing and crying because you're not starting, it's no good to the group of lads...
"More managers are thinking that games are won in the last 20 and not the first 20. If you can have lads to come on and finish the job, whether it's experience, pace or just that impact, you have to have something..."
"When you're a sub, you think it's bull but if you sit back and think about it, games are won and lost in the last 20..."
Watch the Mackey interview and much more from Monday's GAA Hour Show here.