Thursday 17 October 2019

'If my (sub) role can push team over the line, then I'll gladly do it' - Costello

Dublin's Cormac Costello. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin's Cormac Costello. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

It's not inconceivable to say that if Cormac Costello hailed from any other county outside of Dublin, he would have been a regular starter in attack every season since leaving the minor ranks in 2012.

As evidenced by his match-winning cameo when firing three points as Mayo hearts were broken late on in the 2016 All-Ireland SFC replay, Costello looked destined for greatness.

Much has happened in the meantime and his transition into the Dublin starting 15 hasn't materialised with a series of injuries - he tore his hamstring three times in 2017 - derailing his progression.

Amazingly, Costello has started just two of the 17 senior championship outings during his six seasons with Jim Gavin's squad and didn't finish either of those games (their 2014 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Donegal and this year's 'Super 8s' Round 3 victory over Roscommon).

The rapid emergence of Con O'Callaghan, Niall Scully and Brian Howard has made his task all the more difficult in recent years as the Dubs continue to evolve but Costello was delighted to earn valuable minutes in this year's four-in-a-row.

Keeping a player happy when reduced to the role of 'supersub' is no mean feat but, as he has shown with his utilisation of Kevin McManamon in a similar role, the end justifies the means for Gavin.

For a player of Costello's ability to continue pitching in when needed and not let the draw of a starting jersey to boil over is a sign of maturity beyond his 24 years. Gavin often refers to his substitutes as "finishers" and the Whitehall Colmcille forward contributed handsomely with three points when sprung in their semi-final victory over Galway and will continue to do whatever is best for the team.

"Every footballer wants to play as much football as he possibly can. So that would be the aim. But if it's not to be, it's not to be. If I've some other role with the team and if I can push the team over the line, I'll gladly do it," Costello said.

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"It's a special group of players. It's an honour to be involved with them in any capacity. There's different roles for different guys on the team. Some lads play more than others.

"Some lads don't get the chance at all. It's just a privilege to put on that jersey and represent Dublin in some way and influence the team, just a privilege to get more time this year.

"Everyone has their own role and their job to play. Even if they don't get on at all, it's about driving lads on in training or whatever it is. Everyone has their own individual role which I think pushed us over the line."

Costello is willing to do whatever it takes to win when sprung into action, as had been witnessed a few times during his six hours of championship action (not including injury time).

His clear black card for dragging down Kerry's Brian Ó Beaglaoích late in the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final comes to mind as does the image of him throwing away David Clarke's kicking tee in the closing minutes of last year's All-Ireland final with Mayo.

Having also shown himself also useful with the hurl when helping Dublin to the 2012 All-Ireland minor hurling decider, the lure of the small ball is something which Costello would "never rule out".

"I love coming back and playing hurling with my club. Growing up I loved playing the two of them, it's just unfortunate you can't do both. It's not feasible," Costello said.

"I'll never say no (to hurling with Dublin again), I'll never rule it out but at the moment I'm enjoying my football, I'm enjoying playing football so for the moment I'll stick with the football. But you never know, I'm not as good as I used to be at hurling anyway, they mightn't want me!"

Irish Independent

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