O'Callaghan: I'm not surprised by Con's displays
Cian O'Callaghan may be away from the inter-county scene as he prepares for Cuala's AIB All-Ireland Club SHC final on St Patrick's Day but he's keeping a close eye on Dublin's progress and is encouraged by what he sees.
After "a baptism of fire" against All-Ireland champions Tipperary, Ger Cunningham's inexperienced side got their Division 1A campaign back on track in fine style away to Cork before running out of gas late on against Waterford on Saturday.
Despite sitting at the foot of the table on two points alongside the Rebels, Kilkenny and Clare, O'Callaghan is enthused by youngsters like Rian McBride and Donal Burke and believes games like Sunday's crunch tie with the Banner offer a great learning curve.
"It's a great opportunity to go down there in what is a must-win game. And for these young lads, I don't think you could give them 10 training sessions that would be as good as one of these matches in Ennis against Clare," the tigerish defender said.
"It just brings them on so quickly. Then come championship you have to have a bit of that experience. You've got to be able to play when you're up against it and Clare is the sort of place where you're going to be up against it."
O'Callaghan's younger brother Con, who collected an All-Ireland SFC medal with the Dubs last year, has been lighting up the hurling scene with the Dalkey club, amassing 7-13 from play in their last four games, but he doesn't envisage him concentrating on the small ball any time in the near future.
Cian insists that "Con has been a footballer all his life, but a pretty good hurler at the same time" and he doesn't try to sway his decision-making after he committed his time to football upon completion of his Leaving Certificate.
"He was with the hurlers in his Leaving Cert year. He was injured the whole year and came in and did a few sessions, but the footballers came in fairly quick," he said. "But no, the management wouldn't be on to me. As I say, just because I'm his brother it doesn't mean it's up to me to go and try and make decisions for him."
Coming from a football set-up where the physical preparation is in a "different stratosphere", Cian hasn't been surprised by his feats and hopes he can keep up for at least one more game.
"He was a dual player for two years at minor and wouldn't really have had a preference back then. So it's not a case of flicking a switch overnight and you lose all the hurling that you have built up for 15 years so I am not overly surprised."