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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 11 December, 2018

Con O'Callaghan credits Kevin McManamon for his sublime All-Ireland final finish

“You just have to keep the ball low on the ground and if you don’t he’ll save it.”

AT THE DUBLIN homecoming in Smithfield on Tuesday evening, Marty Morrissey quizzed Con O’Callaghan about his sublime finish past David Clarke two minutes into the All-Ireland final.

Con O'Callaghan and Kevin McManamon speak with Marty Morrissey Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It was the sort of goal that belied the Cuala forward’s years. He shook off Colm Boyle and, with the sizeable frame of Clarke approaching, O’Callaghan dropped the ball from his left hand onto his right foot and slid a daisy cutter into the bottom corner.

O’Callaghan told Morrissey that Kevin McManamon, who was standing behind him on stage, had told him in the lead-up to the final keep his shots at Clarke low to the ground.

The fact that O’Callaghan managed to do just that 60 seconds in the pressure-cooker of an All-Ireland final, shows the sort of game intelligence he has.

He doubled down on crediting McManamon in Abbotstown earlier today.

Sky Sports GAA Grassroots Launch Con O'Callaghan was in Abbotstown today at the Sky Sports GAA Grassroots Launch Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

“Kevin Mac did a very good analysis,” he said.

“Clarke’s a really good keeper, makes himself really big. You just have to keep the ball low on the ground and if you don’t he’ll save it. That’s all I was trying to do, keep it low in the corner.

“I just said that I’d go one-on-one with my man, chance my arm and see what happens. I managed to get around and just flick it and toe-poke it into the net. It was a dream start.”

Another scenario Dublin had prepared for was Dean Rock kicking a last minute free to win the game. They stopped short of firing a GPS device at him during training sessions, but did dish out verbals to put him off.

“We actually put Deano in those situations in training where he has to practice the last free of the game,” says O’Callaghan. “We do maybe a little bit of sledging as well to prepare him. He’s a 100 per cent kicker, he always gets them.

“We’d have a bit of shouting, maybe a bit of booing. Nothing too bad. It’s just to put him in those situations.

Con O'Callaghan Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“The whole management team put a whole emphasis attention to detail in everything. We have to prepare as best we can for each match and if that’s what it takes to prepare, that’s what we’ll do.”

Kilkenny’s in-house training games attained legendary status during the last decade, and O’Callaghan lifted the lid a little on how Jim Gavin approaches the A versus B games in the Dublin camp.

“We get a proper referee. Full intensity, full everything. Matchday warm-up. Go at it and there’s always a bit of bite in those matches. There’s always a bit of fight from everyone.

“He (James McCarthy] would be particularly thick if we lose in the A vs B matches. I’d say we could have lost a couple but every A vs B game is seriously intense. There’s a couple of lads who don’t even make the B team and when they come in, there’s a huge intensity brought to every match.

“The A’s are looking to beat the B’s and the B’s are looking to beat the A’s every match.

“You have to put in that time. No one’s going to come straight through and burst onto the scene. You have to be willing to put in a huge effort. Maybe that’s what’s so special about our group. There are 36 lads willing to put in that sacrifice. Maybe that’s why we perform so well.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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