Con O'Callaghan to line out for Cuala hurlers on Sunday
By John Harrington
Con O’Callaghan is set to return to action on the hurling field for his club Cuala this weekend just a week after winning the All-Ireland SFC title with the Dublin footballers.
The talented dual-star was hugely effective for Cuala in their All-Ireland wins of 2017 and 2018 and is looking forward to picking up a hurley again against neighbours and defending champions Kilmacud Crokes in Sunday's County quarter-final.
“We're playing Crokes this weekend, it's a massive match for us,” said O’Callaghan today when he collected his PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Month award for August.
“We're training tomorrow. I'll be down tomorrow night and I'd love to go ahead for the Crokes game.
“It all comes very fast, it's only a week since the game, but I love getting back to the hurling and playing with the lads.
“We have a really good team there.”
O’Callaghan has spent much of the last week celebrating Dublin’s All-Ireland Final replay win over Kerry, and admits the achievement was all the sweeter because they had to overcome considerable adversity to complete the five-in-a-row.
“It was amazing," he said. “Probably relief as much as anything as well. Particularly after the first day, it was such a tight encounter.
“With the sending off and us scraping to get a draw but also having a chance to win, the head was a bit all over the place for a couple of days.
“But after that, we put that behind us on the Wednesday after, set our stall out for the final and to actually do it, come out after a bit of adversity was amazing."
O’Callaghan admits he thought the five-in-a-row was slipping away from Dublin when they trailed Kerry by a point in injury-time of the drawn final.
“Yes, and in the second game as well,” he said. “In fairness to Kerry, we went 0-5 to 0-1 up and looked like we were going really strong.
“And they came at us really hard, got into half-time and we were playing some of the best football we played all year, and we were still only drawing. We thought playing that good football that we could have been ahead, but they came back at us so hard.
“Even the second half, when we got the goal and a point we went four points up. Against Mayo we pulled away but Kerry came back at us again and got back to a point.
“During both games there were moments where you're not questioning yourself but a little bit worried about what could potentially happen.”
O’Callaghan scored just a single point from play in the drawn match but was much more influential in the replay when he hit four points.
He believes a number of tweaks he made in terms of how he approached the replay made a vital difference.
“I would have felt that if I did the same thing again...if it didn’t work the first day, it won’t work the second day,” he said.
“It’s just about finding those little areas. It’s not massive improvements, you aren’t going to change everything.
“It’s those little areas, those little one or two percenters that give you a little edge, and also keep doing the stuff that you do well. We had to change it up a little bit.
“I suppose most players weren’t happy with their performance the first day. But the second day, I think the game was a lot more open, a lot more expensive.
“A lot of lads went at it really hard from the start. I think we got 1-17 from play. I don’t know was there anything in particular, I think it was just the first day, I was probably just a bit contained inside. I didn’t get enough ball myself, I didn’t get free enough.
“I just made a conscious effort to get free early and go at my man early.”