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Seeing Cuala succeed is driving 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan to give hurling career one last push

The 33-year-old forward is hoping to return from a back injury in a couple of months.

Dublin hurler David 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan.
Dublin hurler David 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan.
Image: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

IT MAY BE almost 13 years since David ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan made his debut for the capital’s senior hurlers but he admits he’s as hungry as ever to succeed having seen Cuala claim the county’s first Leinster club title in 36 years.

However, whether O’Callaghan’s inter-county career continues into 2017 appears to be out of his hands.

The 33-year-old is recovering from an October back surgery to tackle a prolapsed disc, an injury that came to a head during last summer’s championship campaign with the Dubs.

O’Callaghan had convinced himself 2016 would mark his farewell from the inter-county game but the way the season panned out, with his back injury, he didn’t get to bow out on his terms.

Success breeds success too, as they say. And seeing so many of his Dublin colleagues end a lengthy drought for club hurling in the capital with Cuala helped persuade O’Callaghan to throw in his lot for 2017, fitness permitting.

“I suppose the fact that I haven’t got to play any hurling for the last six months; you can’t help the appetite building again,” O’Callaghan explained yesterday at the launch for the 2017 Bord na Móna Walsh Cup.

“Even looking at Cuala last week as well, it was very refreshing looking at that and that would give you the horn as well to go back!

“Ultimately, I’ll see how this [injury] progresses over the next couple of weeks, work away with Eamon [O'Reilly, Dublin physio] and see if I can get into a position to give it a crack.”

The success of the Dalkey club has been a welcome distraction for Dublin hurling during difficult times of transition, division and rumours of unrest.

Dublin’s sizable Cuala contingent will certainly miss the league opener against Tipperary on 11 February, and possibly the entire campaign altogether if Mattie Kenny’s side overcome Slaughtneil in the All-Ireland semi-final, but O’Callaghan is confident the Boys in Blue will be given a massive boost when their county champions eventually return to the setup.

“It is a little [awkward, former players speaking out against the setup], to be honest. I’ve had some of the best days of my life with those lads.

“But, I mean, ultimately, if you’re selected on the squad you have to basically give yourself to the squad 100% and you have to commit to the lads that are there.

“If I’m going to be there in 2017 — and hopefully I can get back — I’ll be giving my best to the group that’s there.

Please God you’d like to see Cuala going on and maybe pulling off an All-Ireland victory and coming back into the fold — they’d be a huge lift at that stage.

Another positive for Dublin hurling over the past couple of seasons has been the emergence of a new wave of fearless, talented young hurlers. And that’s something O’Callaghan, who is returning to his boyhood club St Mark’s, Tallaght after two seasons at Ballyboden St Enda’s, believes is important to remember.

“A lot of the lads have got a lot of action the last couple of years and have really stood up, the younger guys.

“You are looking at the likes of Eoghan O’Donnell, the Shane Barretts. I know Cian O’Callaghan will be with Cuala but there’s a lot of lads kind of coming to the fore.

“A lot of the lads really stood up and took it, and a lot of the younger guys are becoming real leaders in the group and I’m sure they are going to be the guys driving the team forward as well going into the future.”

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Alan Waldron

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