Michael Darragh MacAuley is embracing playing in Nowlan Park against Laois

The midfielder is preparing to try and win his fourth All-Ireland title this September

dublin, laois, football, kilkenny, gaa, nowlan park, leinster, michael darragh macauley

Michael Darragh MacAuley Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Dublin's footballers are preparing to travel down the M7 and M9 this weekend to Kilkenny.

The All-Ireland Football Champions are playing Laois on Saturday evening in the Leinster quarter-finals. It is the first time in ten years that Dublin will play a Leinster Championship game outside Croke Park. In 2006, they defeated Longford by two points in Pearse Park.

None of the players who started that day in Longford, will be featuring this weekend. According to former Footballer of the Year Michael Darragh MacAuley, the team is looking forward to the new experience.

"There's no sense of trepidation at all to be honest. We're just looking forward to the game... It's just another pitch. It's not like it's our first time to play away from Croke Park. Maybe in the Championship since 2006, it is. We go away three or four times a year. We're well used to it."

The game has yet to sell out in the Kilkenny venue, but despite that the Ballyboden-St. Endas' star is expecting an excellent atmosphere.

"30,000 people in Nowlan Park is way better than 30,000 in Croke Park. That's just a fact. In terms of atmosphere, in terms of energy in the stadium, it's going to be electric."

Dublin's last Leinster Championship appearance outside Croke Park was in 2006. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

The 29-year-old was in Longford in 2006, and he remembers the day fondly. He hopes for something similar on Saturday.

"We absolutely rammed as many people into Longford that day as we could. It was just a great day out... In terms of atmosphere, it blows anything that Croke Park has out of the water before September or August to be honest."

Dublin begin their campaign as overwhelming favourites to win the Sam Maguire Cup in September. Despite the favourites tag, MacAuley says the team are just focusing on themselves and positive performances.

"The more you hear, the less of an impact it makes on you. It just kind of washes off you... It definitely doesn't stick with players". 

On Saturday evening, Jim Gavin's side hope to finally answer any questions about their ability to perform in the Championship outside Dublin 3. 

Michael Darragh was speaking at the launch of Skill Zone. Dublin’s first and only multi-sport indoor attraction, is now open for booking on www.SkillZone.ie