Saturday 24 February 2018

Versatile Callaghan adapts to life in all-ireland limelight

It is seven years now since Eamonn Callaghan made his championship debut for Kildare as a substitute in the Leinster final defeat to Laois, writes daragh o conchuir.

For much of that time Kildare have struggled and so it is no surprise that the wider public would not have been aware of his talents. His versatility probably hasn't helped either but finally, in the past couple of months, he and many of his previously unheralded team-mates are being acclaimed.

The Naas man, who has operated on every outfield line for Kildare, has always been an intelligent footballer, with a pure kicking style and, though he started out as a defender, he persistently gave the impression that he would be most useful in a creative role.

That was the case last year until a debilitating groin injury ruled him out of the Leinster final and having finally recovered, he has been a revelation during the qualifiers, winning the Vodafone GAA Player of the Month award for July.

Mind you, he still gets moved around a bit.

"I played corner-back, wing-back, wing-forward and corner-forward in the last couple of years so I can play nearly anywhere," says Callaghan. "I started off in the full-forward line against Louth, wing-forward in a couple of the qualifier games and wing-back in the last few games. I'd be comfortable anywhere.

"(Kieran McGeeney) knows his players better than anyone and different players will react to different positions."

Callaghan also praised McGeeney's role in improving Kildare's mental resolve which has helped them recover from many setbacks they've suffered this year.

"Kieran is a great manager and he has brought a lot of things to Kildare. Our mental strength has definitely improved -- especially in the last couple of games when we conceded early starts... we never panicked," he added.

Irish Independent

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