Friday 18 October 2019

Dublin hurlers can only dream as King Con continues to do anything and everything

O'Callaghan teases Dubs hurling boss with latest virtuoso performance

Multi-talented: Con O’Callaghan continues to destroy defences in Gaelic football and hurling. Photo: Sportsfile
Multi-talented: Con O’Callaghan continues to destroy defences in Gaelic football and hurling. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

It may be taken as a given that Con O'Callaghan is off-limits to the Dublin senior hurlers, but his latest masterclass makes that thought even more difficult to comprehend.

To do what O'Callaghan did for Cuala last Sunday - fire 2-3 from play in their Dublin SHC quarter-final defeat of a powerhouse like Kilmacud Crokes - having picked up a hurl sparingly since their last championship game back in April is remarkable.

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Football and the drive for five with Dublin had consumed him during the intervening period, but just eight days after kicking four points as the Sky Blues rewrote history, there he was doing what he does best once again.

Jugular

Most forwards are told to "take the points and the goals will come" but that has never been O'Callaghan's approach and when there is a sniff of a green flag, he always goes for the jugular.

"If you go for the goal, the point will probably pop up anyway. That's what I was told from a young age - 'go at your man and go straight at the goal' - something will happen for the most part," O'Callaghan said last week.

A leading candidate for Footballer of the Year, Dublin hurling boss Mattie Kenny must wonder what life would be like with the 23-year-old in his team, especially having seen what he can do en route to a pair of All-Ireland club titles with the Dalkey outfit.

It may never happen but were he to give inter-county hurling a go, Dublin would be in the hunt for Leinster honours every year as they would possess a full-forward with the x-factor close to goal that scares defences and changes games.

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Laois stalwart Cahir Healy has regularly mixed codes and managed a dual mandate at various stages, so he understands the demands of switching disciplines and marvels at O'Callaghan's unwavering confidence in both codes.

"He's a freakish talent," said Healy. "I'd say his confidence is just sky-high from all the success with Cuala that he feels like he is untouchable. I'd say he walks on to the field thinking, 'I'm King Con, I can do anything'.

"I'd say it wouldn't even occur to him that his touch might not be right because he hasn't picked up a hurl in months.

"I'd say he just walks around and he's winning so much and doing so well that there isn't an inch of doubt in him.

"He has a quality first touch. He's not a Patrick Horgan type of hurler where he can get it out the sideline and flick it over the bar on the run going backwards, but he gets the ball into his hand straight away.

"Defenders can't stop him then when he runs at them. If you were a Dublin hurler playing for Kilmacud you'd be thinking, 'For Christ's sake, this lad doesn't even hurl county with us and this is what he can do to us'."

David 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan is another to have sampled a dual career during his 15 years with the Dubs - all bar one with the small ball - but he is resigned to the fact that 'King Con' will never represent the hurlers.

"It's just an accepted fact that he's with the footballers, there's no point crying about it," O'Callaghan said before outlining what sets him apart from the rest.

"His directness makes him so exciting to watch. Any time he has the ball, he's just one of those players where you always think something is going to happen when he gets the ball. And it does most of the time."

Dublin hurling fans can only dream of what might be were O'Callaghan in the fold, and he is likely to give them plenty more to ponder over the coming months.

Irish Independent

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