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Friday 2 December 2016

Eager to make most of what's left

O'Callaghan in frame to begin spring in Dubs attack after impressive January exploits

At the launch of the 2016 Allianz Hurling League is Dublin’s David O’Callaghan. Tipperary host Dublin under lights in Semple Stadium, Thurles in the Allianz Hurling League opener this Saturday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
At the launch of the 2016 Allianz Hurling League is Dublin’s David O’Callaghan. Tipperary host Dublin under lights in Semple Stadium, Thurles in the Allianz Hurling League opener this Saturday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
David O’Callaghan in action against Wexford’s Andrew Kenny (left) and Andrew Shore during the Bord na Mona Walsh Cup final. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Circumstances being what they are, Dotsy O'Callaghan didn't really have a decision to make.

Because O'Callaghan could, had he so chosen, be preparing this week for an All-Ireland club football semi-final with Ballyboden this coming Saturday, rather than anticipating Dublin's first League match of the year in Thurles just a couple of hours later.

By O'Callaghan's own frank concession, he's "probably not going to go on for that much longer," with Dublin and can't just swan off playing football at a time when Ger Cunningham's team is beginning to take shape.

And, as almost everyone with a watching on the Dublin hurlers has noticed, the last few months "definitely feels like a bit of change, a bit of transition," from the team that won Leinster in 2013 and O'Callaghan is thus understandably keen to be part of both.

Waltzing

Besides, he reckons he "I wouldn't have felt right about waltzing back in there in January," though that option was made available to him by Ballyboden manager, Andy McEntee.

"I had a great couple of weeks with them last year," O'Callaghan admits.

"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 setup there as well. But I decided I'd come back and just focus on Dublin really."

"I spoke to Andy. I don't want to go too much into it. The option was there.

"But I had just made the decision that I was going to come back in hurling."

For what it's worth, O'Callaghan finished the Walsh Cup in both the Dublin team and an encouraging run of form.

He hit three points in a constantly rotating Dublin attack against both Galway in the competition's semi-final and Wexford in Croke Park in the decider.

"Ger has given lads a bit of freedom as well to chop and change and basically to take responsibility too," he points out.

"So there is that bit of freedom to make those changes and chop and change a little bit."

"Maybe it's a bit natural as well," he adds of the signs of evolution in how Dublin's style has slowly begun to change this year.

"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 as well.

"He's after forming a great backroom team as well, there's a great setup there as well for players.

Thriving

"And players 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."

With Tipperary in Thurles first up on Saturday night and just two home games this year - one of which is in Croke Park against Cork - O'Callaghan is anxious that Dublin make a good start to spring.

Equally though, he's aware that the pace of change has accelerated all around him.

There are more younger players being hurriedly brought through than at any stage since the beginning of the Anthony Daly era.

And the fresh faces look even fresher than before.

"Especially in GAA once you hit 30 and have a couple of bad games people say 'the legs are gone,' and it's probably not the case most of the time," he points out,

"At this point, I'm just enjoying it you are probably not going to go on for that much longer from my point of view.

"So its all about 2016," O'Callaghan concludes, "and just trying to enjoy it as best as I can."

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