Big ball or small - Mossy just keeps on rolling

Niall Scully

THESE days you could see Maurice O'Callaghan on the streets of Dun Laoghaire in a sharp suit.

For most of his life, Maurice wore a track-suit.

Football and hurling commitments came ringing on his door - from club and county.

He's a busy solicitor. He unwinds on the side-lines watching Cuala.

The O'Callaghan blood is red and white. And Dublin blue.

He also played for Westmeath. His son, Cian, was playing for the Dubs in Thurles on Sunday - a young hurler with a very bright future.

Maurice brought the umbrella. The result was raining in his heart.

He played with some top hurlers himself over the years - Damian Byrne, John Treacy, Karl Schutte, Vinny Holden, Colman O Drisceoil, Brendan Ryan, Dave Bernie and one of the greatest of them all, Mick Holden.

Mick, of course, won Sam with the Dubs of '83. Maurice has seen football change so much since then.

"Dublin club football is so strong now," he says. "And it's improving all the time.

"You have young fellas playing there that are coming from the development squads.

"They are so well coached. The fitness has gone up hugely. Clubs are putting so much time into it. And you can see the results.

"The standard is so high in Dublin club football, and that, of course, helps the county."


The exploits of the Dublin champions in recent years has also helped to lift the profile.

"You have super teams like Kilmacud Crokes, Ballymun Kickhams and St Vincent's all doing so well when they represented Dublin. It's great to see."

Maurice played against another wizard of the ash - the St Vincent's manager, Tommy Conroy.

Cuala beat St Vincent's in the 1989 Dublin Senior Hurling Championship final. Tommy Conroy was full-forward. His brother, Vincent, was captain.

The present Vincent's senior hurling manager, Damien Allen, also played, as did Eamonn Heery, Shay Fleming, Shane Dalton and the nimble stick-smith and polished finisher, Seánie McDermott.

Maurice often reflects on such days with joy, and he's happy that more players in the Dublin squads are being let back to play for their clubs more regularly in the League.

"I think Jim Gavin and Ger Cunningham are very fair in that regard.

"It gives the players game-time, and their presence means so much to the clubs.

"And it also raises the levels."