O'Callaghan back on track in quest to help Sky Blues take next step
PLAYERS look forward to the championship for all sorts of reasons, but after the winter he has endured, David 'Dotsie' O'Callaghan wants to hurl to forget.
Dublin's star forward had his league disrupted when he contracted pneumonia and he had just recovered his strength when his father Paddy passed away in April after a long illness, and O'Callaghan took a break from the panel to deal with the loss.
However, now that the summer has arrived, the 28-year-old is looking forward to concentrating on matters on the pitch.
"The pneumonia drained me and it set me back by four or five weeks, so once I got back into training, it took a bit of time," he explained.
"With the passing of my dad, we knew it was coming, and I missed a few weeks' training because of it. With inter-county training, you don't like missing it, because it can be fairly intense. I've done my bits and pieces that I needed to do on my own. I'm looking forward to focusing on hurling and getting the best out of myself."
Hurling was something Paddy O'Callaghan took great joy in, and he played an influential part in his son's development.
"He had a huge interest in it," said Dotsie. "He was the one who dragged me around the county to games and trials and he never complained; he enjoyed it.
"He had a massive love for hurling. It was a tough few weeks, so the hurling is something I'm looking to focus on now.
"I don't think I'll be doing it for him or anything like that, because that's not what he would be thinking. It is something that he definitely took huge joy out of and was delighted with the strides that Dublin are making. I'm just looking forward to driving on."
The corner-forward has hurled for the county since 2003 and has been present for the transformation in the team's fortunes under Anthony Daly.
He believes Dublin have never been in a better position going into the championship in recent times and, having won the Allianz National League last year and reached the All-Ireland semi-finals, he reckons it is time to take the difficult next step -- starting on Saturday against Laois in Tullamore.
"You can't stand still. We have high ambitions," he said.
"We have belief that we can beat anybody and you have to have that. We're not going to hide the fact that we want to achieve things -- we have a strong squad.
"It will take a hell of an effort to get back to where we were last year, but we're starting off on the road and please God we can go a step further."