Former Dublin footballer Cian O’Sullivan in attendance at the EirGrid Timing Sponsorship Launch. EirGrid, Ireland’s grid operator, is now in its seventh year as the Official Timing Partner of the GAA.
Former Dublin footballer Cian O’Sullivan in attendance at the EirGrid Timing Sponsorship Launch. EirGrid, Ireland’s grid operator, is now in its seventh year as the Official Timing Partner of the GAA. 

O'Sullivan backs Dubs to have big summer


By John Harrington

Eight-time All-Ireland winner, Cian O’Sullivan, believes only lifting the Sam Maguire Cup again will count as a successful year for the Dublin footballers.

And despite their relegation from Division 1 of the Allianz Football League, he’s confident they’re capable of mounting a serious assault on the All-Ireland Championship.

The former Dublin defender expects them to build up some serious momentum by coming through Leinster and then be in a really strong position for the All-Ireland series.

“A successful year? I look at that team and anything other than the Sam Maguire is not a successful year,” said O'Sullivan today at the launch of the EirGrid Power Play Awards.

“I just look at the strength of that team. And the leadership qualities still in that team. They're definitely up there, definitely up there with the best.

“I think they're in a good position. I'd be quite optimistic for our chances this year. I know it wasn't a great league campaign and there has been some rhetoric around possibly the team not being as good as they were in previous years.

“But that's no harm, you know, to be flying below the radar. I think that might suit the team. And I think they're going to have a chance in the Leinster campaign to build some momentum.

“I don't see them being challenged in Leinster. If a Leinster final is Dublin-Kildare, you know, I expect it to be a tight game but I do think Dublin at the end of it will have too much for Kildare.

“So, you know, get to that point in the season, I think they'd be well established, a well established team and I'm looking at that starting 15 and going down through the names on the team sheet and I'd be very slow to write them off. Very, very slow.”

Tom Lahiff of Dublin and his midfield partner Brian Fenton walk the pitch before the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Wexford and Dublin at Chadwicks Wexford Park in Wexford. 
Tom Lahiff of Dublin and his midfield partner Brian Fenton walk the pitch before the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Wexford and Dublin at Chadwicks Wexford Park in Wexford. 

Relegation to Division Two will have stung, but O’Sullivan doesn’t think the big personalities in the Dublin dressing-room will be motivated by now trying to prove their doubters wrong.

“Yeah, it's a strange one because that never would have been a source of energy or motivation in previous years,” he says. “I don't know how well they're harnessing that or not? Probably not because it's quite short lived. Because as soon as that criticism wanes, where do you look for your motivation? I'm sure deep down it is. It's lingering there somewhere.

“There's some really, really strong leaders on that team from the last number of years. You've got Jonny Cooper, James McCarthy, Dean Rock, Brian Fenton, Michael Fitzsimons, Evan Comerford, Con O'Callaghan, you could just keep on listening these names off and they're all pretty good footballers, they're all really strong leaders.

“I think that's an attribute that's going to be really, really key for this team throughout the year. I look at that, and I look at the abundance of it in the team, and I definitely have them up there.”

Dublin manager, Dessie Farrell, used the League to blood a whole host of new players, and even though they were relegated O’Sullivan believes that policy will now bear fruit in the Championship.

The young guns will have learned a lot of hard lessons in the League, so if the team strings some wins together and builds up momentum in the Championship they’ll be in a position to really put their best foot forward.

“I think so,” said O’Sullivan. “That was that was one really encouraging aspect from the league and a sign of this management team's plans. They're not just looking for a short-term win, they're trying to build something that's a bit more sustainable, and they're looking into the future and a few seasons down the line.

“It was necessary to bring new players in that hadn't played at this level before. And while that might have meant sacrificing a couple of results in the League and ultimately getting relegated to Division 2, the bigger prize is the bigger picture and that is the health and success of Dublin football in the next couple of years. That to me is a really positive thing around this management team.

“Now that these new players have had a taste of football at that level and we've seen a few green shoots like Lee Gannon and Lorcan O'Dell and a couple of more players showing they can really be part of this team and this squad, that's only going to get stronger as the season progresses.”