This Saturday evening will see the last ever All Ireland U21 Football Final take place, as Dublin and Galway make the trip to O’Connor Park in Tullamore to make history. A piece of history that Dessie Farrell’s co-captains Cillian O’Shea and Con O’Callaghan are eager to be a part of. Hopefully on the right side of the result.
These two young Dubs are no stranger to each other, having tussled on many occasion, from juvenile level, in both football and hurling, against each other for Kilmacud Crokes and Cuala.
But the young Crokes man O’Shea is more than content to have O’Callaghan on his side this weekend. Particularly after his successful spell with hurl in hand for Cuala during their All Ireland winning run. Many thought the extra load would affect his return to Dessie Farrell’s football panel. Thankfully that wasn’t that case.
What wasn’t expected by any of the panel, particularly O’Shea was O’Callaghan’s early bath in the All Ireland Semi Final when he was dismissed to a black card. Despite that Dublin remained together and dominant to see off Donegal to earn their place in this Saturday’s Final.
“There was no confidence problems or anything” Cillian told the Independent.
“I was a bit far away so I wouldn’t have noticed. I didn’t know what happened, Then I just saw the black and it was like, ‘Christ’.”
Luckily Dessie’s players reacted perfectly and have now given O’Callaghan another chance to prove his value in the Final, and more than likely beyond that into Jim Gavin’s Senior Championship plans, continuing the long line of talent Farrell has developed for the Senior team. And O’Shea is happy to praise the manager, who was behind their first ever provincial four-in-a-row at this level.
“I think he’s a very good manager and I think anyone who has played under him would tell you the exact same thing. A lot of his players have gone on to play in the senior ranks”.
“There’s serious trust there. And everyone knows their role, all the players know what their role is. Huge respect for them, the work they do is serious.”
With experts tipping this last ever U21 Final being a game between Donegal and Kerry, the fixture now draws so much more excitement as the two sides who weren’t considered facing each other. And in his third year at this level, O’Shea still has no experience of Galway. But he did watch their semi final against Kerry and understands that this weekend’s fixture will be as tough as they come.
“Kerry were hugely fancied and anyone I know that knows anything about football had them talked up to the sky. It was very impressive from Galway and a serious performance, especially that opening 10-15 minutes, so it’s a big challenge ahead.”