Saturday 21 September 2019

It just felt like the time to step away from Dublin - O'Callaghan

David 'Dotsy' O’Callaghan. Photo: Sportsfile
David 'Dotsy' O’Callaghan. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

David 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan thought about giving it another shot.

Pat Gilroy had been installed as Dublin hurling manager and it was the sort of appointment that could only intrigue any prospective hurler in the county.

At 34, he had already put in 15 seasons as a Dub in one form or another. And the last couple of those were ravaged by injury.

But when Gilroy came on board, he asked himself if there was anything left in the tank.

As it turned out, there wasn't.

"You would have heard a lot of things about the lads," he said of the new management team.

"I did push it out myself, I trained myself really hard for a month just to see if the enthusiasm would come back and if the body would feel ready to go into that full-on setting.

"Unless I could go back in from the off full-on, I didn't want to hang around and didn't see the point in that for myself.

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"I suppose I was having slight issues with the injury I had in the past and niggles were coming as well. Mentally as well that can be quite draining. Even when I came back in last year I tore my hamstring straight away after the back injury. We had a good run with the club but I was getting constant niggles in the groin."

Gilroy has shown he has been more than willing to give the old guard an Indian summer if they felt up to it.

Johnny McCaffrey is back on board. Conal Keaney is 35 and started last weekend. And O'Callaghan did make a push in the embryonic days of Gilroy's reign but it wasn't to be.

"I did try. I went to the regional trial and to be honest I was more going out there to nearly shake Pat Gilroy's hand and wish him well.

"That's pretty much how it was to be honest. (Former Dublin hurler) David Curtin had taken the Dublin south team and he was dragging me to go out. I said I'd go out to just see. There was slight niggles and stuff and mentally as well it just felt like the time to step away.

"I just shook Pat Gilroy's hand and wished him well. He obviously gave me access to physios and medical support and he was great like that. But from my own point of view it was just a case of making the step to move on a bit."

And that was it. A career that had seen breakthrough wins and bitter lows ended with a handshake.

O'Callaghan's world is very different now. He misses the dressing-room atmosphere but there are other things filling his time. There is charity work in Africa with Alan Kerins and a role with the Dublin U-16 hurlers.

He is also confident that Dublin's senior side will be competitive again before long.

"Over the next few weeks there's going to be great tests, but there seems to be more and more lads coming back from injuries, and there's more lads behind the scenes ready to come in as well who have good experience.

"And from me seeing them in training they have a lot to offer too. Throughout the league, if they can hit the knockout stages and just get as many games as possible, and then coming into championship you've got all that squad available… there's a lot of lads who are seriously talented hurlers.

"If that can be gelled together, you're playing Kilkenny in the first round and that has to be a bit of a target. Is that beyond the realms of possibility, Dublin winning that game? I wouldn't think so."

Irish Independent

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