Saturday 3 December 2016

We'll never talk about winning three-in-a-row, insists O'Sullivan

Tom Rooney

Published 21/10/2016 | 02:30

Dublin's Cian O'Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin's Cian O'Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile

The descent into complacency is rarely by design, which is why - particularly when in the midst of a gilded era - safeguarding against it requires the utmost vigilance.

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Since making his Dublin debut in August 2009, Cian O'Sullivan has averaged two medals a year.

Such has been Dublin's dominance of late, as evidenced by their 29-game unbeaten run, it would be forgivable if an element of expectancy had crept into the individual or collective psyche.

However, O'Sullivan's earliest memory at senior inter-county level remains the most abiding, and it's one the Kilmacud Crokes man routinely references should the vagaries of elite sport become momentarily lost on him.

O'Sullivan received a baptism of fire in his first Dublin appearance; the 2009 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final drubbing at the hands of eventual winners Kerry - the ignominy of which is embedded in his brain. As almost 82,000 people looked on at Croke Park, the Kingdom demolished Dublin, and booked their place in the semi-final with a staggering 17 points to spare (1-24 to 1-7).

Consequently, O'Sullivan has never required much anchoring to keep his feet on the ground.

"It's a reference point in terms of not getting carried away with success," he said. "It's a humbling thought because if I was told then that I would have four All-Irelands with Dublin in seven years' time, I would have looked at you a bit strange.

"It's a bit humiliating, I suppose. It was harsh reality check in that when we were leaving the stadium we were booed. There was people coming up rocking and banging on the bus and roaring and shouting at the players, which wasn't a nice experience."

When casting a glance towards 2017, the prospect of Dublin winning a fifth consecutive league title, a sixth straight Leinster crown and a third All-Ireland crown on the bounce is certain to dominate the footballing discourse.

And, while that it is completely reasonable, O'Sullivan stressed that setting records or entering the history book has never, and will continue to be, of all little consequence to the group.

"Firstly, I wasn't even conscious that we had gone 29 games unbeaten. I was talking to some of the lads and we were remarking that there's been a lot of talk of two in a row, but that was something that we never referenced through the year or focused on. Just the same way next year, we'll never talk about three in a row."

Ultimately, when reflecting on his time to date in the Dublin jersey, O'Sullivan's overriding feeling is one of gratitude.

"I find myself very lucky to be playing at this particular time, with guys like Paul Flynn, Bernard Brogan, Stephen Cluxton, Diarmuid Connolly, Michael Darragh Macauley.

"There have been fantastic players for Dublin over the last 10 or 20 years, and some of them don't have any All-Irelands, with Ciarán Whelan, unfortunately for him, the most infamous example.

"I am definitely very conscious of that fact. Success is very short-lived and people have very short memories."

Irish Independent

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