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Tuesday 6 December 2016

My plan didn't work out - O'Gara

Eoghan already relishing 2017 after two years of injury frustration hampered Dub ambition

Dublin’s Eoghan O’Gara fires over a late point under pressure from Kerry’s Bryan Sheehan during their All-Ireland SFC semi-final last August. Pics: Sportsfile
Dublin’s Eoghan O’Gara fires over a late point under pressure from Kerry’s Bryan Sheehan during their All-Ireland SFC semi-final last August. Pics: Sportsfile

Eoghan O'Gara has better reasons than most to remember Dublin's first Championship match outside of Croke Park for a decade.

And the Templeogue/Synge Street forward also has more again to relish their second.

Save for 20 minutes in Carrick-On-Shannon against Roscommon in April, O'Gara went 15 months - from the date of his cruciate rupture to the day of the Laois match in Kilkenny - without competitive inter-county football.

When he entered the play in the 63rd minute as a substitute for Dean Rock, the Dublin fans congregated on the terrace behind the Laois goal sang his name upon every involvement for the remainder of the match.

"For me, that day was my first game back really since the 2014 championship," he pointed out.

Dublin footballer Eoghan O’Gara at the Top Oil sponsorship launch of the Leinster GAA Schools Senior Championships at St Vincent’s CBS, Dublin
Dublin footballer Eoghan O’Gara at the Top Oil sponsorship launch of the Leinster GAA Schools Senior Championships at St Vincent’s CBS, Dublin

"So it was a big day for me. I got a good reception too which added to the occasion but overall it was very positive."

Which is partly why he has no issue with the pilgrimage becoming an annual one.

HYPE

"I don't think it's an issue, it's not something we think about," he pointed out.

"People need something to talk about and the fact that we play all our games here (in Croke Park), people have to pick up on something.

"Some people see it as home advantage all the time but we can only do what we are told to do and play where we are meant to play and get on with it.

"And if we play all our games outside Croke Park that's something we'd enjoy as well.

"But," O'Gara continues, "I think we enjoyed it as a team.

"There was a lot of talk and hype about us having to move out of Croke Park but it was never an issue for us as a team.We enjoyed the experience of playing Laois in Nowlan Park and it was my first game back in championship so we'll look forward to the first game in 2017.

"It's great for us we have a good travelling support too and they get behind us."

The reason he might look forward to Dublin's next country jaunt, be it Portlaoise or Wexford, is that having made his comeback this June, O'Gara's renaissance stuttered.

If the high point was surely kicking the final point of Dublin's epic comeback in the All-Ireland semi-final win over Kerry, the low mark was staying on the bench for the replayed final, the moment his team stitched Sam Maguire successes back-to-back.

Not that there's much shame in not cracking an inside forward line packed with an outrageous array of different talents, it's just that O'Gara had a plan that had to be tapered a bit.

"I had a plan and a diary in my head and it didn't pan out the way I had pencilled it in," he explained.

"Maybe in hindsight I was slightly ahead of myself on the comeback trail and frustration crept in and I wasn't getting game-time.

"In hindsight I probably wasn't ready, you're being told that you're not ready. You feel that you're ready and maybe looking back it is along time out, a big gap but I'm looking forward to the coming year injury free and get a good run at things."

Whether he will be joined by club-mate Denis Bastick again, nobody seems to know.Like O'Gara, Bastick's involvement faded as the summer wore on and will, by the time next year's All-Ireland Series rolls around, be 36 years of age.

"If he keeps it going he can make a seamless transition into the Dublin over-40s," O'Gara laughs.

"He's a great guy and great leader and obviously he needs to make a decision based on his body and family and game-time.

"But he keeps his cards close to his chest, so I honestly don't know.

HAPPY

"I'd say he is still thinking about it I don't think he has made a decision on it.

"It would be great to have him around," O'Gara adds.

"He is the 'elder man' of the team and is a cool head in the changing room and on the pitch. And if we were to keep him, there'd be a lot of happy people in the changing room," concluded O'Gara.

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