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Footballer Con O’Callaghan’s eye for goal could make Dublin V Cork clash a tough watch for Taoiseach

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Con O'Callaghan, pictiured during last month's Leinster Senior decider against Kildare, is Dublin's key man going into this week's All-Ireland quarter-final. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Con O'Callaghan, pictiured during last month's Leinster Senior decider against Kildare, is Dublin's key man going into this week's All-Ireland quarter-final. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dublin's Eoghan O'Donnell. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Dublin's Eoghan O'Donnell. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

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Con O'Callaghan, pictiured during last month's Leinster Senior decider against Kildare, is Dublin's key man going into this week's All-Ireland quarter-final. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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En route to winning the five-in-a-row in 2019, Jim Gavin’s Dublin enjoyed a 13-point winning margin over Cork in the short-lived Super 8 series.

Three goals in the final 10 minutes saw Dublin get past a Cork side who had trailed by just two points following a Luke Connolly penalty in the 46th minute.

Amongst the goals that day were the now-departed Jack McCaffrey and Michael Dara Macauley, both former Player of the Year winners.

Post Covid, Dublin don’t look as well rounded, but the one constant throughout has been Con O’Callaghan.

His threat down the middle was very much in evidence that day and it would be safe enough to say that since his return to competitive action this season the Cuala star has transformed the fortunes of Dublin as they walked their way to another Leinster Championship with victory over Kildare last month.

O’Callaghan turned in a man of the match display with 1-5 as Dublin became the first team since 1955 to register five goals in a Leinster Football final.

Cork, by contrast, made hard work of Limerick in the final round of qualifiers in Pairc Ui Caoimh two weekends ago, needing a late Brian Hurley penalty, his 10th ever championship goal, to secure a 2-18 to 1-16 win over the Treaty County.

Needless to say, Saturday’s 6pm throw-in at GAA headquarters will be a big step up for the Rebels who, since their dramatic win over Dublin in the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final, have drawn a blank against the Capital men in the championship.

Admittedly they have in Stephen Sherlock and Cathal O’Mahony, full forward for Cork in that U20 side that defeated Dublin in the 2019 all-Ireland decider, two forwards capable of running at defenders.

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But whether they can hold Dublin at bay for the full 70 minutes will be another matter entirely.

Given that Dublin seem to have rediscovered their goalscoring touch, Saturday’s affair may prove uncomfortable viewing for Taoiseach Micheàl Martin whose son Michael Aodh has the unenviable task of minding goals for the Leesiders.

As for Dublin, they go into this game with a strengthened squad following the recent addition of this year’s Dublin hurler Eoghan O’Donnell.

O’Donnell becomes the third hurler from the Whitehall Colmcille club to have swapped codes at inter-county level.

O’Donnell was part of the 2012 Dublin hurling team along with Cormac Costello that lost to Tipperary in the All-Ireland Minor final replay, the third member of the Whitehall hurling fraternity being Lee Gannon who won Leinster success with Dublin at U20 level last season.

Gannon, having cut his teeth under Dessie Farrell in this year’s ill-fated league campaign, has nailed down a place in the starting fifteen alongside Lorcan O’Dell.

Whether O’Donnell has time to impress the Na Fianna man and former GPA boss at such a late stage in the season remains to be seen, but his physique and undoubted ability under the high ball is certainly a big boost for Dublin.

Looking at the rest of this weekend’s quarter-final action in Croke Park, it begins with Derry taking on Clare at 3:45pm on Saturday.

Derry, the Ulster champions, will be looking to continue their terrific form under Rory Gallagher, but one cannot underestimate a Clare side who dug in deep to defeat Roscommon two weekends ago.

Sunday’s double header starts at 1:45pm with Armagh taking on Galway, with the Orchard County looking to replicate their feat of 20 years ago when Kieran McGeeney led them up the steps to collect the Sam Maguire. They come up against Connacht champions Galway who will be looking to Shane Walsh for inspiration.

However, the standout game is at 4pm when Kerry take on Mayo in the last of the quarter-finals.


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