Con O'Callaghan relishing Dublin adventure
By Cian O’Connell
Con O’Callaghan added the latest chapter to his glittering career at Croke Park on Saturday.
Inevitably the Cuala attacker decorated the match with another critical goal as Dublin eventually shrugged off Mayo’s spirited resistance.
It meant Dublin collected a sixth All Ireland title on the spin, but in this deeply uncertain year, O’Callaghan stressed the value of being involved in such an accomplished outfit.
“We are very much aware of the lucky and privileged position we are in,” O’Callaghan reflected following the match.
“And it’s something that we do regularly talk about in our bunker in DCU, or wherever we train. It’s something we regularly touch on.
“I love playing and I am blessed to be playing with so many good players, lads that I looked up to. To be playing with Stephen Cluxton, James McCarthy, even Mick Fitz(simons) from my own club. It’s something I cherish and I know the lads do inside.
"We also have a really, really strong connection and bond within the team. I suppose it helps when we are winning, but even when we are not, we are very, very tight when things aren’t going well.”
O’Callaghan was thrilled that a Championship took place during a testing 2020 for everybody in the world.
“Like all my friends, I wasn’t able to see my closest friends, some of my brothers and my sister had moved out of the house,” O’Callaghan states.
“To be able to play and train two and three times a week, they really are your brothers, your family, the backroom staff. We do recognise that we are in a really, really privileged position.
“We did talk about it at the start, that there is that added, not weight on your shoulder, but that added privilege that you are able to do what you want, when so many people are going through really, really hard times, young people and old people alike.
“We were really grateful for that and it’s something we definitely touched on a lot.”
Mayo posed stern questions, but Dublin had the resolve and resilience to find the necessary answers. “I talked to the other lads there and it’s something that always happens with Mayo,” O’Callaghan admits.
“They bring such a fierce intensity, like. We knew that was the case and we had spoken about it. It’s a different story speaking about it and actually being out there.
“You can review all the tapes that you want and say there are opportunities inside or there are goal opportunities but when you are in the white heat of battle, and someone is facing you down, putting you under pressure, getting contact on you, it’s much different.
“You are forced to make mistakes and that’s something they do really well. We struggled to come to grips with that early on.”
O’Callaghan had an interesting tussle with the emerging Mayo footballer Oisín Mullin during the decider.
“Oisín Mullin was on me, he’s a really good player," O'Callaghan remarks. “I hadn’t marked him before. He won a kickout or two early on. I think I had a chance on goal. I probably could have taken an easy score to put it over.
“Yeah, I tried to take the chances that came my way. Again, it’s really just playing as part of that team. We got two team goals, which is really important to us. Yeah, maybe it did settle me down a little bit.”
O’Callaghan flourished once more on the Croke Park stage.