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Dublin Under 21 co captain Cillian O Shea.
Dublin Under 21 co captain Cillian O Shea.

Cillian O'Shea: 'It is a great thing to be part of'


By Cian O’Connell

Cillian O’Shea simply wanted a chance so that is why the past three years have mattered deeply.

The promising Kilmacud Crokes youngster never played at minor level for Dublin, but a hat-trick EirGrid Leinster titles have been secured.

Dessie Farrell spotted O’Shea impressing for Kilmacud and since then he has enjoyed success with Dublin, who face Galway in what promises to be an interesting All Ireland Final at O’Connor Park, Tullamore on Saturday.

Farrell has been a significant influence on O’Shea. “Yeah, definitely, I got brought late in to that squad,” O’Shea remarks about his call up in 2015. “I hadn't played minor and at the same time the club gave me chances as well. That is probably how I got noticed by Dessie, the club were giving me a chance at senior level.”

Kilmacud manager Gabriel Bannigan afforded O’Shea an opportunity to shine at senior level at a young age. “Definitely, it was a big thing for me,” O’Shea admits.

“I was on the Kilmacud senior panel before the Dublin Under 21s, I hadn't played for Dublin. That was a huge step for me, walking into that dressing room.

“Nearly all of those lads had won an All Ireland in 09, I was in awe of all of them. To be given my chance playing with them in the League is what helped me to come on a lot. That was a big step for me.

“Gabriel Bannigan, he is still in charge at the moment. He would have been huge for me in terms of giving me opportunities and bringing my game on and giving me the chance to perform.”

Cillian O Shea during the EirGrid All Ireland Under 21 Semi-Final win over Donegal.
Cillian O Shea during the EirGrid All Ireland Under 21 Semi-Final win over Donegal.

At Under 21 Dublin had suffered narrow losses at the penultimate stage to Tipperary and Mayo before beating Donegal in 2017.

“Yeah, definitely the Semi-Final was the big hurdle, we weren't looking beyond it,” O’Shea says. “They were difficult enough ones to take, especially last year by a point with it being the last kick of the game.

“We have moved on from that, we were fully focused on winning a Semi-Final this year, and we did it. We were happy to get over the hurdle.”

The Mayo match was a particularly cruel defeat a year ago. “Yeah, it was definitely difficult, but to be honest during the game it was a very enjoyable game to be part of.

“The players could sense the excitement, how tiring it was from the intensity of it all. It was an enjoyable one to have been part of, obviously disappointing to lose and very difficult to take, but they are the games to be playing in.

“They are the ones you want to be competing in and trying to win. It was just unfortunate that day, but we got the luck the last day, we have now got our chance in the Final.”

How Dublin coped following Con O’Callaghan’s early black card with a Donegal outfit sprinkled with players, who sampled action throughout the Allianz Football League was encouraging according to O’Shea.

“Yeah, exactly, they had six lads who nearly played in every game in the League and they nearly got to the Final. There was nothing bad about that Donegal senior team, so we knew these lads were very impressive.

Dublin joint captains Con O Callaghan and Cillian O Shea lift the EirGrid Leinster Under 21 Championship trophy.
Dublin joint captains Con O Callaghan and Cillian O Shea lift the EirGrid Leinster Under 21 Championship trophy.

“We knew about their talent, we saw the big scores they were racking up in Ulster in not the best conditions on wet nights. They are a very talented team and we knew that. We had to be very focused on that game and how we were going to play.

“Obviously Con going off was a bit of a loss, but we just focused on our game plan, we stuck with what we needed to do. Confidence grew as we seemed to do everything right play by play.”

These are exciting times for Gaelic Football in the capital with Dublin claiming four All Ireland senior titles since 2011.

“There is definitely huge excitement and passion about football at the moment,” O’Shea acknowledges. “I think people love watching the seniors every time no matter what kind of a game it is. There is huge interest.

“The lads who won the O'Byrne Cup, a lot of them aren't even involved anymore, but they took their chance at that level. The all round quality in Dublin football is really high at the moment. It is a great thing to be part of, there is great excitement around it.”

Now Dublin want to claim national silverware at Under 21 level with O’Shea highlighting Galway’s dynamic display in the victory over Kerry in a high octane Semi-Final tussle.

“Kerry were hugely fancied going into that and hugely fancied to win the whole thing no matter who got through,” O’Shea states.

“Anyone I know who knows anything about football would have them hugely talked up so obviously that makes the Galway performance and result even more impressive.

“We saw most of it now and how they played in the first 10 minutes was exceptional. They showed huge intensity and talent as well, the quality they have is unquestionable, they scored their first eight shots or something. They definitely have quality and will be a formidable opponent in the next game.” Another lively match is anticipated.

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