Wednesday 21 March 2018

Inside Back: Where are they now?

Plus Quote and Number of the week and Have Your Say

Rossa O'Callaghan, former Roscommon footballer
Rossa O'Callaghan, former Roscommon footballer

Rossa O'Callaghan (Former Roscommon footballer)

When the late Dermot Earley released his autobiography in 1992, he wrote "I'm watching you" on Rossa O'Callaghan's copy. At that time O'Callaghan was playing minor for Roscommon and Earley was the county senior manager. A year later, his dreams came true when he was called into the senior team. But he'd set his heart on representing his county long before that.

The forward played for Roscommon through the underage ranks and in 1992 he was captain of the minors. His side reached the Connacht final but a severe forestry accident, where he nearly lost his hand, put him out of action for the game. They won the title and O'Callaghan recovered in time to play in the All-Ireland semi-final against Armagh. They came up short but it was a great occasion for the young footballer. The following year O'Callaghan was called up to the Roscommon seniors. It was a huge step up in terms of the physical demands of the game but he relished the challenge.

"You are a young adult playing against full-grown men," explains O'Callaghan.

"It was very physical, the training was extremely hard but it was such an exciting time. I was thrilled to be there. When you grew up watching a team and then you were playing for them, it was a great feeling."

His debut came soon after he joined the squad. It was against Meath in Division 1 of the National League. The Royals were a dominant force in football at that time so facing them was a big deal.

"I remember being up in Meath and I wasn't picked to play but David O'Connor got injured in the warm-up and it turned out that I was handed his spot. I couldn't believe it. I was over the moon. I was marking lads with All-Ireland medals and I was only a teenager."

He played with Roscommon until 2001 when along with nine other players he was dropped from the senior football panel. It was a devastating blow for the 26-year-old and one he found it hard to deal with.

He lives in Claregalway nowadays and works as an engineer. He coaches underage football in the local club, his three sons play and he loves it. O'Callaghan is still a big supporter of his former team and feels that there could be an upset in Connacht this year.


Quote of the week

'I have won everything with the team and individually, Ronaldo won nothing. I'm not sad, but it hurts the heart. Don't get me wrong, I am proud to have been there. I feel I deserved this title. There is so much politics'

– Franck Ribery feels he was hard done by in the Ballon d'Or voting


Number of the week


The number of points that Clare hurler Bobby Duggan scored on his senior inter-county debut against Limerick last Sunday.


Have your say

United fans will stand by their club

As a Man Utd supporter since the 1960s, I fully expected that the team's present struggles would delight a lot of people. Any team with such an unprecedented run of success would expect the same.

However, for the last two Sundays, the Indo has published letters containing such vitriol towards United that I feel I need to respond. Regarding Jerry Daly's ridiculous assertion that United players don't deserve the 'superstar' status, sure you could level that accusation across football. Then we had Sean Barrow belittling United's heritage over a "fawning" article by Billy Keane, with a snide remark about the Munich disaster thrown in.

I didn't read the Keane piece, but I can say that supporting Man Utd has been handed down through generations of families, going back to the late 1890s. United have always been one of the most popular teams in England, even before the Munich disaster. That tragedy only enhanced their popularity, and Sean, true United fans know the club didn't treat the Munich victims' families well, and that is to their eternal shame. So we don't need to read John Giles to find that out.

The rise of support in Asia is only a recent thing and is the same for any popular big team. Whether they'll stand by United through any decline is debatable but I can tell you that I, and many more like me, always will.

Paul Mack

Micko's Wicklow record remarkable

Just read your excellent piece on Micko [Hold the Back Page, Jan 19]. Wonderful man and brought great buzz and joy to Wicklow. Wicklow beat teams in the championship that in the general era got to quarter-, semi- and All-Ireland final. Fermanagh, Cavan, Kildare and Down. Disagree when you say 'seriously limited'. Wicklow have never won Leinster and were last in the final circa 1897.

Unfortunately, Micko's team were only a hair's breadth from the big breakthrough, especially in a one-point loss to Westmeath in the year of the Louth/Meath goal. With over a century of baggage, Micko's time was remarkable. His only weakness is one common to all great men and women: a love of apple tart and cream.

Billy Timmins

Keher wearing Kilkenny blinkers

Over the past week it has emerged that former hurling great Eddie Keher has submitted a document to GAA president Liam O'Neill with regard to the use of yellow and red cards in hurling.

Most hurling people would feel that their is an overuse of the yellow and red cards in the game but I would suggest that Keher, in noting increased cynicism in the game, should look at his own county's track record.

A few years ago, Ger Loughnane raised the dubious tactics used by Kilkenny hurlers and there were howls of indignation from Noreside with Keher being one of the protesters. Keher talks of players ducking under tackles to win frees and getting players carded or sent off – this may be alluding to Henry Shefflin's dismissal last summer against Cork – but it is up to the referee to read each case on its merits. If players are adhering to the rules then they have nothing to fear.

He also claims that forwards are charging into defenders in order to get a free. Again, the referee has the duty to decide if the player is charging or being held illegally. The onus has to be on the players to obey the laws, not on making it harder for players to be sent off. Might he also consider that Richie Power benefited from a lenient interpretation of charging at a crucial turning-point in the 2009 All-Ireland final.

Keher is also suffering from a bout of "Nashism" where he is worried about the the safety of defenders from shots being struck from 15 to 13 metres. Does he suggest that all forwards should now be barred from shooting for goal from inside 15 metres? I wonder if any of these "do-gooders" were around in 1954 when Ring broke Nick O'Donnell's collar-bone with a shot from a sliotar; would they have been calling for the greatest player of them all to be barred from playing the game?

Keher, in his concern about cynicism, he needs to take a look at his own county's contribution. In my opinion, he would rank with Shefflin and Jimmy Doyle behind Ring as the greatest forwards the game has seen but he would do well to come out from behind those black and amber blinkers.

Matt Aherne

Pre-season cups not only problem

Just have to say something about your piece on colleges adding to burnout. Players playing in that tournament would be playing with their counties anyway so it makes no difference. If they weren't county players, they wouldn't be burning out. So your point is irrelevant. Although I agree with you that the people involved are being hypocritical, the pre-season cups are not the only problem.

A Sully

Irish Independent

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