Saturday 20 January 2018

O'Callaghan keeping focus on hurling as Ballyboden chase football glory

David O'Callaghan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
David O'Callaghan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Instead of opening up, David 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan's diary is filling up quicker than ever.

Now the other side of 30, he should be following the well-worn path that sees the more experienced panel members come back a little later than the rest.

Instead, O'Callaghan is already back in with Dublin and he could play in not one, but two, high-profile games on Saturday night.

O'Callaghan will be with the Dublin hurlers in Thurles this weekend for the opening round of the Allianz League but he could have been down the road in Portlaoise with the Ballyboden St Enda's footballers as they take on Clonmel Commercials in the All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final.

O'Callaghan only joined the club last year, having previously played with St Mark's in Tallaght. He hadn't played in the club football championship in years but manager Andy McEntee used the former Dublin footballer as they secured the county title.

That, however, would be as far as he'd go as plans to travel ruled him out of their Leinster campaign.

"I had a great couple of weeks with them last year," he recalled.

"And I managed to see a bit of action in the latter stages in the Dublin county (championship). But I made a decision to do a bit of travelling. I just informed the management the night of the county final that I would be going away.

"So there was no issue. They're great lads and there's a great set-up there as well. I suppose I wouldn't have felt right about waltzing back in there in January. I decided I'd come back and just focus on Dublin really."

Even though the club are within a couple of hours of an All-Ireland medal, there are no regrets and Dublin have his complete attention now.

There's been plenty of change both in terms of management and players but so far Ger Cunningham looks to be knocking a tune out of the Dublin panel.

"It does definitely feel like a bit of change, a bit of transition. If you're looking at the last couple of years, we've lost a lot of great players. There's definitely a youthfulness to the team and a freshness," said O'Callaghan.

"The dynamic has probably changed slightly as well and everybody is looking forward to driving on.

"Ger's first year coming in to Dublin, he's obviously not going to know the scene that well. It's going to take a bit of time to get to know people around the county and to know players and to know what exactly he's looking for as well.

"Year one is giving him an opportunity to become familiar with things. He's after forming a great backroom team, there's a great set-up there for players and they are really enjoying that and really thriving and the training and stuff.

"We'd a good positive start with the Walsh Cup victory and everyone's just looking forward to the big challenges that are coming up thick and fast."

A year ago, they saw off Tipperary in Parnell Park in the opening round of the League but Dublin's year would ultimately peter out and O'Callaghan wants to be in his best form when the Championship comes around.

"I was happy enough with (my form) for long periods of the year, though I probably did dip a little in the early stages of the Championship," he said. "I managed to get back into the team towards the end of the year but unfortunately it didn't finish great for us as a team.

"But you want to be in a position where you are in playing a role in the starting team and that's what I'll be looking to do.

"It's a hugely competitive (league). Game by game, you're really just trying to ramp it up and try to pick up points along the way.

"And yeah, you'd like a good start. But there are a lot of new lads who'll bet getting jerseys and that's exciting as well. You want to be picking up points and ultimately, there's a massive test coming down the road."

Irish Independent

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