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'No regrets' over small ball choice fro O'Callaghan

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David O'Callaghan

David O'Callaghan

David O'Callaghan

WHO knows, if David O'Callaghan had hung in with the Dublin senior footballers, he might be an All-Ireland champion today.

But he doesn't harbour a single regret about his decision to walk away from Paul Caffrey's squad in April 2007. He doesn't possess that All-Ireland SFC medal but he feels all the richer for what he has achieved in the subsequent years with his first love, hurling.

O'Callaghan was first a Dublin senior fooballer under Tommy Lyons - for 2003 and then the spring of '04 - and later under Caffrey, from '05 until '07. By our reckoning then, he has one more Leinster SFC medal (two) than its SHC equivalent.

"I would have grown up with a massive love for hurling and it was something that probably nagged at me, not hurling (with Dublin)," he told The Herald.

"One of the teachers got me onto a minor football team with Dublin, and I wasn't too fussed, to be honest with you … I was more focussed on the hurling.

"And I ended up having a good year, that's what basically happened. We got to an (2001) All-Ireland replay against Tyrone and things went well for me for the year.

"So I suppose that put me in the football spotlight and at the time - as a young lad - you see the football and maybe you see the bit more chance of success."

O'Callaghan recalls that summer of '07, spent in the United States, having quit the football fold.

FRUSTRATED

"I felt the need to travel. I suppose I was a bit frustrated and a bit lost at the time as well, in myself. So it was just something I wanted to do and experience," he explains.

But while he was away, Dublin were achieving a Leinster minor and U21 hurling double back at home. "The thought of the Dublin seniors making a breakthrough and not being part of it - that would have scared me a little bit," he admits.

So 'Dotsy' returned, spent one season under Tommy Naughton, six eventful campaigns under Anthony Daly, and is now embarking on life under Ger Cunningham.

"Hurling was always number one, without doubt. Don't get me wrong, I love the football as well and I like playing football too - but my passion was always hurling," he relates.

"It was fantastic to have the opportunity to play with the Dublin footballers ... I suppose I didn't probably appreciate it as a young lad, how great it was."

During his Stateside sojourn, he recalls watching a clip of the U21s (led by Johnny McCaffrey) lifting Leinster U21HC cup in Parnell Park after a Peadar Carton wonder goal propelled them past Offaly.

"The thought of being part of a senior set-up that was going to push on and make breakthroughs had huge appeal," he concludes.


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