Sunday 24 September 2017

O'Sullivan: 'Resilience is Dublin's strength'

Cian O’Sullivan believes Dublin are well-equipped to bounce back from the league final loss. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Cian O’Sullivan believes Dublin are well-equipped to bounce back from the league final loss. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Cian O'Sullivan wasn't trying to play it down. The league final loss, he stresses, wasn't in their script.

But seeing the result as a sign that there's a turn in the road ahead? He's not buying that for a second.

Still, there's no denying what the win will do for Kerry. It's not that the Kingdom ever thought Dublin were too far out of reach to land a blow. It's just now they know for certain they aren't. Whatever seed of doubt that might have been sown in Kerry minds has now been swept away.

And O'Sullivan knows what getting out from under the thumb of one team or another can do for a team because he has been there himself with Dublin.

When he made his debut in 2009, Dublin's story was one of almost annual humiliation at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage. Early in the summer of 2010, they'd ship five goals to Meath. On the face of it, it was another forgettable day but it proved significant on their road back to the top.

A few months later they got over the quarter-final hurdle and a little over a year after that they'd go all the way.

Analysis

"Although I wasn't playing, Meath beat us when they got those (five) goals. Again, like, (it was) a defeat we took a lot from. And probably a defining moment with that group of players and that team. Looking back over the analysis of that game, a few light-bulbs went off and that prepared us for the rest of that season and the seasons ahead."

And he's hoping their first defeat in league or championship in more than two years can have a similar effect. The final few minutes of the league final, where the Dubs looks set to reel in Kerry as they had in Tralee a few weeks earlier, assured O'Sullivan that despite all the trophies and accolades, there was plenty of life in Dublin yet.

"We would have had a few kind of defining games over the last number of years," he said at the announcement that Skins and Dublin GAA will team up until 2018.

"I spoke earlier about the mental resolve and resilience that's built into the team. That's probably one of our greatest strengths.

"And we've shown it time and time again. But to get that, to build that, you have to come through those type of games. You need those defining wins.

"There's no amount of sitting around a training ground in front of a flip chart that you can do to learn that. You have to experience it.

"You have to be in a game with ten minutes to go behind four or five points and pull it out of the bag to really build that kind of resilience in the team.

"Obviously Kerry will take a lot out of that win against us in the league final, but I think we still showed ... I think they probably could have won by a bit more than they actually did if we didn't turn things around the last five, 10 minutes, so thankfully, again we showed that we still have that string to our bow.

"We are happy with how we closed out the game. It's just unfortunately that the rest of it wasn't up to our standards."

Disappointed

"(We're) obviously disappointed that we lost the game, lost the league final but that's kind of where it ends with us from a team and players' perspective."

O'Sullivan's reintroduced himself slowly to the scene this campaign, spending the first six weeks of the year travelling in South East Asia. He forced his way back into the team for the league final where their unbeaten run finally came to an end.

As much as they tried, O'Sullivan admits it was almost impossible to avoid the talk that comes with such a run.

"It's hard, even in work now. You'd have clients or work colleagues saying to you and it's hard to escape everyone.

"If a client is sitting across and kind of talking about it you can't really tell them ... or just walk away. You try and change the subject. Yeah, it does seep in I suppose."

And the Kilmacud Crokes man hopes the end of that unbeaten streak has removed a 'distraction'.

"We wouldn't have been paying too much heed to the unbeaten run and however many games it is, but it was just so widely talked about and publicised, that your friends and family, or in the media or wherever, that it is very hard to get away from it.

"It does seep into the subconscious and therefore become a bit of distraction to your preparations for the game.

"That is done away with now, that distraction isn't there. So, is it a positive going into the summer? Yeah, it probably is.

"It's a good thing that that distraction is kind of gone now."

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