Thursday 13 December 2018

O'Callaghan happy for break after hectic 2017

Con O’Callaghan and Paul Schutte at a press conference to announce Davy as sponsors of the Cuala senior hurling team. Photo: Sportsfile
Con O’Callaghan and Paul Schutte at a press conference to announce Davy as sponsors of the Cuala senior hurling team. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

He sits before us now as the man of the hour and surely as man of the GAA year but Con O'Callaghan isn't that interested in talking about himself.

Along with his clubmate Paul Schutte, he's in Dublin city centre to announce Cuala's new sponsorship deal with financial giant Davy but the pair are here on a lunch break and there's only limited time to reflect on his stellar year.

It's easier the count the games he has lost in 2017 (one) than the All-Ireland medals he picked up (three) but after adding the Leinster Club SHC title to his haul for the year last weekend, the dual star is just looking forward to a break.

After all, he has gone from Cuala's successful All-Ireland campaign in March to securing the last U-21 All-Ireland competition in April before forcing his way into Jim Gavin's historic three-in-a-row-winning side.

There was little time to dwell on any of that. Dublin were champions again but he rejoined the Cuala juggernaut who have since retained their Dublin and Leinster titles to end a breathless year.

And he admits he's ready to take some time way from the whitewash.

"It's nice to enjoy the Christmas," O'Callaghan said in the Davy offices in Dawson Street.

"I probably didn't get so much (of a break) last year. We probably trained quite hard last year with Cuala hurlers and I'd imagine we will again but hopefully we can stay off the pitch for the next few weeks and enjoy Christmas."

By his own admission, he has been well managed despite his seemingly never-ending schedule. Between Gavin, Cuala manager Mattie Kenny and Dublin U-21 boss Dessie Farrell, his workload was made as manageable as possible despite being a key cog for all three teams.

"I suppose the managers that I was with gave me a good break," he agreed.

"Mattie is very helpful and we're going to plan ahead for the next couple of weeks but I'd hope to take a break until Christmas now and just let the body rest for the rest of the year.

"Paul would probably have played the same in terms of underage stuff. You're required to do a lot but you just get through it and if the body holds up, you're lucky enough."

Missing out on the pre-season grind has likely helped him avoid injury.

"You probably don't get to do all that pre-season training. You stay fit from the matches that you're playing the whole time. It's just continuous so there's no start or finish but maybe this year I hope to get a longer break before Christmas."

That break will coincide with the Dublin footballers' team holiday to South Africa at the end of the month before he returns to prepare for an All-Ireland Club SHC semi-final clash with Galway champions Liam Mellows.

Watching on, it feels like Cuala haven't missed a beat since winning in Dublin last year. Schutte explained that a meeting before they started the defence of their Dublin title inspired them to keep going while they could.


"I remember I think it was Tomás ó Sé that said they got to an All-Ireland final with An Ghaeltacht and when they lost he was like, 'That's it now, it's so hard to get back here.'

"So that kind of crossed my mind. But then we had a meeting in the Royal Marine and we said, 'Right let's try and first win Dublin, second win Leinster and then try and defend our All-Ireland.'"

With O'Callaghan in the team, they have hit top form and were too good for Offaly champions Kilcormac Killoughey in the provincial decider last weekend.

As you might expect, O'Callaghan was key, chipping in with 1-2. If the talented dual star was ever going to get carried away with himself this would be the time. He has headlined months of coverage with 'King Con' the moniker of choice but it all leaves him cold.

"You wouldn't really read into it," O'Callaghan said of the column inches that have been afforded to him.

"You just stay around your friends and team-mates. They won't be the ones talking about it, it is people outside that bubble who will be talking about it. So you just stay in there.

"People can say what they want but you try to not let it affect you."

In any case, the Cuala team are there to keep his feet firmly on the ground, as Schutte explained.

"We watched the match afterwards, the Leinster final, back in the pub, and you'd swear we lost they way we went on. He (O'Callaghan) got absolutely slated by everyone," Schutte laughed.

"So there's no fear of him whatsoever getting ahead of himself."

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport