Thursday 22 August 2019

'If O'Callaghan wants to play hurling it will be his decision' - Pat Gilroy not going to beg Dublin footballers

Con O'Callaghan. Photo: Sportsfile
Con O'Callaghan. Photo: Sportsfile

Conor McKeon

Pat Gilroy is adamant that he "won't go begging anyone" to play hurling for Dublin.

As he made a kind of managerial debut in Boston on Sunday, Con O'Callaghan was scoring 1-3 in Parnell Park in yet another display of his rare talent in the Leinster club hurling semi-final for Cuala.

And so, despite having fully established himself with Jim Gavin's footballers this year, it would seem implausible that Gilroy wouldn't at least enquire as to O'Callaghan's short-term sporting plans.

"If a fella really wants to play for the Dublin hurling team, I will take him and grab him with both hands," Gilroy admitted. "But he has to want to do that. I'm not going to begging anyone to play for the Dublin hurling team. There's enough fellas that really, really want to.

"And if they really, really want to, they are going to be much better than the fella that's not sure which way he wants to go.

"I think, to be fair to the likes of Con and that, he's going great with the football. It's up to them. They might think at some stage in their lives, 'I've enough of football, I want to give hurling a go'. He's young enough and good enough to do it.

"It will be his decision if he decides, 'I'll give the hurling a lash'.

"Myself and Jim will have a very open dialogue about anybody because it's the only way it will work. We're both playing on the same team here.

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"We're both Dublin. We won't want to be doing damage to each other. And at the end of the day if a fella's head is turned to football or turned to hurling, let him go that way."

Ditto Diarmuid Connolly.

After starting this year's All-Ireland final on the bench - and given his deep connections with both Gilroy and Whelan - Connolly seemed at least an outside contender to switch codes, despite his relative hurling inactivity over the past decade.

"I don't think Diarmuid is in a position where he wants to commit to the hurling. He's 30-odd now," Gilroy explained. "Unless you're playing hurling a huge amount there's no way you can think about playing inter-county.

"As I said before, I'm not going to do anything that's going to damage the footballers. There are enough hurlers in the county without having to interfere with that."

Of his own bona fides, Gilroy stressed that he "would have preferred to be a Dublin hurler than a Dublin footballer but I wasn't good enough".

"At the time the hurling was a game that I preferred all the way up playing it. But I wasn't as good as I was at football."

He acknowledged too that the relative standings of both codes in the capital currently means talented dual players are more likely to opt for football.

"There were more chances with the football," Gilroy noted.

"That's something that irritates me because even with my own kids, they probably choose football at times because they think they are going to get success where they don't see the chance of success with the hurling.

"I don't mind if they play football or hurling as long as they're doing it for the right reason.

"Getting that in play in Dublin, where people are making the decision, on what they are better at rather than what they will win at, if they had the choice maybe it would be healthy.

"We can be a proper dual county," Gilroy concluded.

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