Interesting adventure for promising Kerry dual star
By Cian O'Connell
It was a quiet summer for Barry O'Sullivan before Kerry Under 21 Hurling manager Ian Brick called.
O'Sullivan enjoyed a productive underage football career earning silverware with Kerry minors and Under 21s as well as a Hogan Cup with Pobalscoil Corca Dhuibhne.
Now, though, O'Sullivan has emerged as a key player for Kerry, who face Wicklow in Saturday's Bord Gais Energy All Ireland Under 21 B decider at Semple Stadium.
"This year the club got knocked out early of the County Championship and I didn’t go to America and the Kerry front was quiet too and Brick gave me a ring there and said will you come to play the hurling and I said why not?," O'Sullivan explains.
"It was a great opportunity I suppose my skill level wouldn't have been as good as the fellas from north Kerry, but I picked it up gradually week after week and thankfully now we are in a final against Wicklow. Anytime you are in a final it is great. Hopefully we can go on to win it."
Dingle native O'Sullivan, who featured for UCD in the Independent.ie Sigerson Cup Final against St Mary’s Belfast, had played only one hurling game in a half dozen years for Kilmoyley at minor level.
"We had a club team (Dingle) until maybe I was Under 14 and then football took over," O'Sullivan says.
"In Kerry if you want to be trying to play it is probably football and in the school we were lucky to be good enough and it kind of petered out.
"I played one game at minor with Kilmoyley in north Kerry and after that it petered out again and now since the football went quiet I said why not."
O'Sullivan lives with Kilkenny panelist James Maher. "It’s mad alright in a way, but I’m living with Jimmy Maher up in UCD and he’s on the Kilkenny hurling panel and I’d be pucking with him a lot," O'Sullivan states.
"I know what you are saying it is very different, but from an athleticism point of view I wouldn’t be too far off. The first few training sessions were tough, but you get into it after a while like anything."
Paul Geaney featured at this level for Kerry back in 2010 so Dingle has been represented at this stage. "No there was a bit of hurling long ago it’s just a pity it is gone," O'Sullivan admits.
"It’s a geography thing I suppose if it is there you play it if it is not you can’t do too much about it. I would have always kept the touch going off the wall or with fellas around the place in college or wherever.
"I know it’s a funny one alright, a Dingle man playing hurling, but look I’m going to keep the head down and hopefully we can win."
O'Sullivan isn't sure when his next game of hurling will be after Saturday. "I probably don’t, no," O'Sullivan replies.
"I am not too sure. Look, I said to Ian, I will have a go and take a punt. And he says we will take a look and if you are good enough, we will have you on. And if you are not, he didn’t give me any guarantees starting out.
"I wasn’t too busy with the football, our club was knocked out of the County Championship and I am not involved with Kerry this year, so I will give it a go.
"My short-term goal will be to win the hurling, and then it will be back to football again. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, I will be able to pick it up again. But I will be back to college in UCD, not playing hurling in UCD, just playing football.
"It was just a case of why not? I had nothing to lose. It was nice to change it up a small bit as well, less pressure than in the football in Kerry.
"There is a great set-up inside there, they are very keen, they are mad hurling men and we are in the final now against Wicklow and if we can play to our potential, we will be in with a good shot."