If the start of the year was an exhilarating time for 21 year old Con O’Callaghan and his All Ireland winning Cuala team mates, you’d wonder just how Dublin’s newest Senior star has handled the summer.
The forward started every championship game since the Leinster Quarter Final against Carlow, has only been substituted twice and has scored 1-20 for Jim Gavin’s side.
Two weeks ago he set the tone for what would be Dublin’s most polished performance to date, beating Tyrone 2-17 to 0-11 in the Semi Final.
With four minutes on the clock, Tyrone’s Niall Sludden won a kick out from keeper Niall Moran, but his intended pass to Padraig Hampsey was knocked toward Philly McMahon by Ciaran Kilkenny. McMahon kicked the ball across the halfway line where O’Callaghan was waiting in space. Both Paddy Andrews and Dean Rock saw the opportunity to pull their markers, opening the door for the Cuala youngster to run directly towards goal. And with a powerful strike of his right boot the ball when vaulting into the top left of the net.
If anything, this moment, will forever hold Con O’Callaghan in the memories of every Dublin fan, topping his amazing performance in the Leinster Final. But this story has been rumbling under the surface for many years. Con has been making waves back as far as minor level.
Alan Brogan has recently sung Con’s praises, when speaking last week at SuperValu GAA event last week.
“Usually when young guys come into the Dublin panel, they aren’t as big as some of the guys that are in there already because they have a few years of strength and conditioning under their belt.” Brogan told the42.ie.
“Con has come in and slotted into that centre-forward position, he’s a big man and well able to handle himself so he’s able to slot straight in. His football speaks for itself.”
O’Callaghan has appeared, on the surface, to have taken all of this in his stride. Maybe it’s being surrounded by the current panel who have become used to the big game pressure. Or does O’Callaghan’s demeanour suit this panel.
“He’s that type of fella, he’s very unassuming. He obviously comes from a good family background so all that stuff helps him. He has good guys around him that can mind him, that he can talk to about what to expect.
“He has taken it in his stride. He was always destined to play senior football with Dublin. It’s just a question of how well he can do over the few years. There’s no question, he probably will become one of the Dublin greats yet.”
Con O’Callaghan’s Championship Stats.
Leinster Quarter Final v Carlow – 0-02 (2f). Played 70+ minutes
Leinster Semi Final v Westmeath – 0-03. Played 60 minutes
Leinster Final v Kildare 0-12 (6f). Played 70+ minutes
All Ireland Quarter Final v Monaghan 0-01. Played 70+ minutes
All Ireland Semi Final v Tyrone 1-02. Played 69 minutes