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O'Carroll eyes on small ball glory

RORY O'Carroll's medal haul makes for impressive counting. The full-back man mountain has All-Irelands with the Dublin seniors, U21s and Kilmacud Crokes, and collected a Leinster U21 hurling medal last year despite missing the final owing to his involvement with Pat Gilroy's team on the same week as the final.

At 22, he has plenty of time left to add yet more silver to his bounty. But when asked what he's missing, the answer isn't wholly surprising.

"A few hurling medals," he told the Herald.

Dublin football fans just growing accustomed to that safe feeling of possessing a top grade full-back after half a decade of watching square pegs in round holes wrapped in the number three jersey can relax.

Rory will hurl for Dublin... just not yet. "At some stage," he replies when asked for a date for his trip across the codes. "But not at the moment."

Would he consider joining Cork's Eoin Cadogan in a very exclusive club of inter-county players lining out at both codes at senior level?

"No. I'd never do both," he states. "I wouldn't be good enough. It's hard enough when you're Conal Keaney. But when you're not half as good as him... it's hard enough to do one as it is."

Another gong yet to adorn the O'Carroll mantelpiece is an All Star award. Last Friday, Rory was hotly tipped and probably deserving of a spot in this year's honorary full-back line but lost out to Marc Ó Sé, Mick Foley and Neil McGee.

"Obviously, it would have been nice to get one," he admits. "But it's a team game. As one of the lads said, Berno can't put the ball over the bar if it's not given to him. It's a team game regardless. You can't be a great individual without a great team. Individual awards wouldn't be top of my agenda."

Rory was speaking outside the Capuchin Day Centre, a refuge for homeless people in Smithfield in Dublin's north inner-city, and a facility where he has regularly worked voluntarily over the past couple of years.

As he arrived with Mick Fitzsimons, Craig Dias and Sam Maguire, the place burst with emotion.

Minutes later, Bernard Brogan arrived and the underlying reason for the necessity of the centre was momentarily forgotten.

Posing for pictures, shaking hands and signing jerseys... it has been head-spinning for O'Carroll since the All-Ireland was finally reclaimed for Dublin and he, for one, wasn't expecting the outpouring of emotion which the victory spawned.

"To be honest, I didn't," he concedes. "You don't really see the effects until it actually happens. When we walked into Merrion Square and there were 40,000 people there, it hit home. Then it just kept on going and going and going... as you can see from today."

Not that he let the celebrations get out of hand. If anything, he culled them too soon.

"Personally, I went out for the week, and after the week I had a club hurling game so it was back to reality with hurling and football training with the club. Unfortunately, it didn't last too long."

"It's not easy," he says of the struggle to meet final year college commitments while the biggest party in recent Dublin history rages all around him.

"But hopefully after Christmas, we'll get back to work and move on and not dwell on our success this year."

It's worth noting that back in 2009, when Kilmacud Crokes won their All-Ireland club title, O'Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Cian O'Sullivan were all under 21.

Just two years later, they made up half of the defence which ended 16 years of frustration and heartache by delivering an All-Ireland.

"It was brilliant to have Cian beside me and Kev right in front of me," O'Carroll explains.

"Kev, getting the equalising point and man of the match in the final... he's a role model for everyone -- including the players on the team."

In fact, among the starting six defenders in the All-Ireland final, the average age is just 23, young enough then to see further glory as a distinct possibility.

"When the lads were trying it year after year, it becomes harder and harder to win.

"When you win it at a young age, the belief is probably there that you will win it again," O'Carroll points out.

"If you go six or seven years without winning it, you probably doubt yourself.

"But just because we won it this year doesn't mean we'll win it again," he stresses.

"It's only going to make it harder to win it again. But at the same time, you will have a bit more confidence in yourself.

"We knew how hard it was to win it this year," he adds.

"It's going to be twice as hard to do it next year."