The brave Irish challenge was finally ended in the cruellest way as they bowed out of the second round in a penalty shoot-out against Spain on Sunday.
Big 'Doc' just missed out on a place in McCarthy's 23-man squad for Japan and South Korea after returning from a seven-month injury absence with a goal in a friendly against USA.
That goal wasn't quite enough to force his way into the final cut - no surprise after he was out from September to April after sustaining a broken leg.
But he'll be back in the frame - not least with Steve Staunton and Niall Quinn announcing their retirements - when the Euro 2004 qualifiers begin.
"I was devastated for the lads, especially to go out on penalties," said Gary, talking between training sessions with the squad in La Manga.
"But they've come out of the tournament with so much credit. I watched all the games and they were excellent.
"It could be the making of some of the younger lads and we've got a few youngsters coming through.
"Obviously I'd love to be involved again and Mick basically said that I was in his future plans when he broke the news to me about the World Cup squad, so that was nice.
"But I missed so much of last season that I just can't wait to start playing again."
Gary Doherty admits he was devastated by Ireland's World Cup exit - but is all the more determined to get back into Mick McCarthy's plans.