Saturday 29 April 2017

Con O'Callaghan adds to his growing reputation by scoring 2-5 as Dublin make Leinster under-21 decider

Dublin 2-10 Longford 0-9

Con O'Callaghan, right, of Dublin celebrates with Chris Sallier after scoring his side's first goal during the EirGrid Leinster GAA Football U21 Championship Semi-Final match between Longford and Dublin at Lakepoint Park in Mullingar, Co Westmeath. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Con O'Callaghan, right, of Dublin celebrates with Chris Sallier after scoring his side's first goal during the EirGrid Leinster GAA Football U21 Championship Semi-Final match between Longford and Dublin at Lakepoint Park in Mullingar, Co Westmeath. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Frank Roche

Frank Roche

DIFFERENT sport, less glamorous surroundings, same Con O’Callaghan.

Five days after helping Cuala to the All-Ireland club hurling summit in Croke Park, the capital’s most lethal dual weapon switched his focus to the Dublin U-21 footballers in Mullingar tonight.

And, long before the hour’s end, he had contributed 2-5 as Dessie Farrell’s Dub cubs buried Longford with an avalanche of third-quarter scores.

O’Callaghan’s towering tally included 2-2 from play, although Longford will rue the two defensive gaffes that released the Dublin No 14 for goals within 80 seconds of the restart and then on 38 minutes. 

He was ably assisted by the jinking Chris Sallier, who assisted his inside partner for 1-1 while adding 0-3 of his own. 

O’Callaghan’s second goal meant the breezed-backed Sky Blues had already amassed an unanswered 2-3 since the break, turning a one-point lead into a ten-point chasm.

Longford rallied with six of the last nine points, including the final four, to put a respectable gloss on the scoreline. 

Yet there was no mistaking Dublin’s superiority when the game was a contest, and they will hope to complete a Leinster four-in-a-row against Offaly – conquerors of neighbours Laois last week –  in O’Moore Park next Wednesday night (7.30). 

Farrell’s crew are getting well accustomed to the wintry surrounds of Lakepoint Park, having brushed past the challenge of Westmeath here at the quarter-final stage. 

Longford started with the elements but, crucially, failed to make any early headway. We waited almost 14 minutes for the first score (an O’Callaghan tap-over free) and 22 minutes for the first point from play (a fine solo effort by Sallier). 

Three times, Longford responded to a Dublin point by levelling before O’Callaghan secured a 0-4 to 0-3 interval cushion with a perfectly judged curling effort into the wind.

Longford frequently brought 12 men back to clog up space for the odds-on favourites; they defended manfully in that first half, no one better than Dessie Reynolds with two brilliant tackles in the space of 60 seconds.

However, the lopsided second half trend was set by a short kick-out disaster that was seized on by O’Callaghan. He played a quick one-two with Sallier who left his colleague with a simple tap-in.

Longford’s perilous plight was rendered hopeless by another defensive error – this time a fumble by the previously impressive Reynolds. Cian Murphy released O’Callaghan, who underlined his predatory instincts with an improvised low finish past Conor Gallagher. 

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