Con O’Callaghan: Dublin’s dual diamond

Con O’Callaghan: Dublin’s dual diamond
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The Dublin footballers and hurlers are experiencing contrasting seasons so far.

Jim Gavin’s footballers swatted Roscommon aside on Saturday to become the first county side in history to remain unbeaten for 35 consecutive league and championship games.

The formidable All-Ireland champions are on course to retain their Allianz National Football League title, and are the favourites to retain the Sam Maguire.

Ger Cunningham’s hurlers, on the other hand, have endured a difficult league season in Division 1A of the Allianz National Hurling League.

His side will face Clare in a relegation play-off, and will enter the game as the bookies favourites to be demoted to Division 1B.

Con O’Callaghan, however, is a player who has been a shining light at both grades in recent months for Dublin.

On St. Patrick’s Day, the immensely talented full forward played a key role in Cuala’s victory over Ballyea in the All-Ireland hurling club final.

O’Callaghan scored two points in the first half of that game, and also provided a clever flick on for Mark Schutte’s goal, despite having only four possessions in the first 30 minutes at Croke Park.

His strength and power were abundantly clear, but the UCD student also boasts a wealth of natural talent, as exhibited by his audacious attempted lob in the game, which beat the Ballyea ‘keeper but came back off the crossbar.

The 20 year old scored a whopping 7-13 in just four championship games for Cuala after his return from the Dublin footballers as the Dalkey side marched towards their maiden All-Ireland hurling title, earning the AIB Leinster Club Hurler of the Year in the process.

Just five days after helping Cuala to lift the Tommy Moore Cup for the first time, O’Callaghan captained the U21 Dublin footballers to victory over Longford in the Leinster semi-final, bagging 2-5 in the process.

O’Callaghan played both sports at underage county level, and announced himself to the country with a tally of 4-32 during the Dublin minor footballers’ journey to the All-Ireland semi-final in 2014, and he has continued to progress ever since.

Con takes after his father Maurice, who played with the Dublin footballers in the 1980s, and also hurled at u21 county level with the capital.

While his older brother Cian – who is also a hugely influential player for Cuala – is a regular in the Dublin hurlers’ full back line, Con intends to focus on becoming a regular for Jim Gavin’s Dublin footballers in favour of an inter-county hurling career, and he appeared as a substitute in the Dubs’ thrilling draw with Kerry in Tralee last week.

The mere fact that Gavin had the faith to introduce the 20 year old in a huge game which tested Dublin’s unbeaten streak speaks volumes about the talent O’Callaghan possesses.

He is both strong and direct, and has terrorised full backs at both grades in recent seasons.

The senior Dublin hurlers would be loathe to miss out on another hugely talented youngster, after Cormac Costello and Ciaran Kilkenny also decided to focus on football rather instead in recent seasons.

O’Callaghan only made his senior football debut against Westmeath in the O’Byrne Cup earlier this campaign, and scored 1-2 against DCU in the same tournament a few weeks later.

The Cuala player was an unused member of Dublin’s All-Ireland winning side last year, but we will undoubtedly be seeing a whole lot more of the powerful forward in the coming years.


David Smith

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