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Dublin: 3°C Tuesday 13 April 2021
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No regrets for adopted Dubliner Darragh O'Connell after quitting the Kerry panel

The school teacher is preparing for the Leinster club final with Cuala.

O'Connell at yesterday's media day.
O'Connell at yesterday's media day.
Image: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

DARRAGH O’CONNELL HAS committed his long-term hurling future to his adopted Dublin and AIB Leinster club finalists Cuala, insisting he has no regrets about quitting his native Kerry.

The 24-year old former Kingdom midfielder made his Dublin debut last May in a challenge game and started against Galway in the Leinster championship semi-final replay.

It followed several years of living in Dublin and working as a schoolteacher in Greystones and making the arduous journey back and forth to Kerry for club and county sessions on a regular basis.

On the face of it, it was a significant hurling upgrade for O’Connell though Dublin had a poor Championship campaign while Kerry, in turn, capitalised on Allianz league promotion to gain full MacCarthy Cup status with their Christy Ring Cup win.

“Kerry was where I grew up, Abbeydorney is where it all started for me and I’m still great friends with all the lads,” said O’Connell. “But I made my decision, no regrets. I can look back and say there is certainly no what ifs there.
“It’s been a fantastic year. I’m representing Dublin now and I’m representing Cuala and I’m trying to do that to the best of my ability. But then again, I was absolutely delighted with the guys and what they did this year, especially to beat Antrim in Parnell Park (to gain league promotion), that was probably the big one and then to go on and win a second Christy Ring was brilliant.”

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AIB GAA Club Championship Leinster Hurling & Munster Football Provincial Final Media Day Cuala’s Darragh O’Connell is pictured alongside Paul Roche from Oulart the Ballagh ahead of the AIB GAA Leinster Senior Hurling Club Championship Final on 29 November in Dr Cullen Park at 2pm. Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

Both Cuala, based on the south-side of Dublin close to Wicklow, and Oulart-The Ballagh, will be battling for a maiden Leinster title success on Sunday. But while Cuala have been in just one final before, in 1989, Oulart have contested six of them, infamously losing four-in-a-row between 2010 and 2013.

Perhaps in light of Cuala’s semi-final win over the Kilkenny champions, Clara, their lack of baggage – the sort that Oulart must carry after all those losses – and a clutch of inter-county players in their ranks, the Dubliners are significant favourites for Sunday’s tie in Carlow.

“Initially our focus was to win the county championship,” said O’Connell. “We achieved that goal and we sat down the day afterwards to re-evaluate where we were doing and to set new goals. It was a brand new championship, the Leinster club, and one we have very little experience of playing in.

“I suppose we just got a little bit of momentum, getting over Coolderry in Tullamore was a huge win for us, especially having to go down there on a bad day. That was a great result and to go on and beat Clara afterwards was great. Whenever you are going to play the Kilkenny champions, it’s going to be tough no matter what week it is. That gave us more momentum again so that was a great couple of weeks.”

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