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Con O'Callaghan: 'Sometimes people would come up to me and tell me I'm going to the hurlers'

The Dublin football star dismissed rumours he was set to swap codes earlier this season.

Image: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

Updated May 18th 2022, 8:25 AM

CON O’CALLAGHAN HAS rubbished ‘nonsense’ rumours that did the rounds earlier this year of a potential switch to the Dublin hurlers.

The 26-year-old Dublin football star missed all of the Sky Blues’ National League campaign due to an ankle injury suffered in a challenge game in January.

At one stage during his lay-off, it was rumoured that he was poised to park football and team up with his former All-Ireland winning Cuala club boss Mattie Kenny and Dublin.

King Con eventually returned to big ball duty when he lined out against Wexford in the Leinster SFC earlier this month, firing 1-6 and becoming the 50th player to feature competitively for Dublin this year.

“Sometimes people would come up to me and tell me I’m going to the hurlers – that was the first I’d heard of it,” said O’Callaghan. “Most of what is said is nonsense.”

Six-time All-Ireland medallist O’Callaghan said the reality is that he was laid up for several months due to an injury suffered in a pre-season game against Roscommon.

“We’d a challenge game the week before the first league game, that set me back,” he said. “I thought it was just a small little knock, a bit of bruising maybe, but after a couple of weeks went by it wasn’t getting better.

“I ended up coming back the week after the league finished so it was poorly timed in that I got injured just before the first league game and only got back the week after the last league game. But that’s sport, it’s guaranteed to happen at some stage.

con-ocallaghan-with-eoin-harkin Con O'Callaghan in action against Meath's Eoin Harkin in last Sunday's Leinster semi-final. Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

“Injuries are part of sport and you can get very unlucky, something innocuous can hurt you and that’s exactly what happened to me.

“It wasn’t a quad strain or fatigue injury, it was a bumpy pitch in January where the weather was shite and I fell over a little lump and did my ankle so yeah, the more you play, there’s a chance it would happen.”

O’Callaghan’s former Cuala manager, Dublin legend Paul Curran, suggested that the scorepoacher could return a ‘rejuvenated’ player after the break and it certainly seemed that way when he took Wexford apart in his first game back. O’Callaghan added two more points in last weekend’s whitewashing of Meath.

“I love playing football, the more I play, the more I enjoy it,” said O’Callaghan. “We had a lot of great days with the club as well and people would sometimes say, ‘Oh, you’ve been on the road for so long’ but if I didn’t want to be on it, I’d just leave. I wouldn’t stay on it.

“Coming back with Dublin this year, I felt really good. I was raring to get back as quickly as I could. Maybe in the long-term the break might do the bit of good but who knows?”

O’Callaghan was speaking in the Cuala clubhouse in Dalkey at the launch of the Support4Drummo jersey swap fundraiser campaign.

Dublin teams, with the support of sponsors AIG, will wear specially commissioned jerseys in their upcoming games to highlight a campaign to raise funds for O’Callaghan’s club colleague, Sean Drummond, the Cuala senior footballer of the year in 2018, who suffered life altering head injuries in a traffic accident in London the following year.

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“He was a year older than me, we would have played together the whole way up,” said O’Callaghan. “I think he got full points in his Leaving Cert, he was a really focused guy, played minor with him and played senior together and he was a massive leader on our team.”

O’Callaghan’s own niggles and knocks over the last nine months or so – he battled a knee injury late last year – are relatively trivial in comparison though they sidelined him for longer than he’d expected.

A boost upon his return was being thrown the vice-captaincy.

“A big honour but the most important thing is that we have leaders all around the pitch, all around the dressing-room,” maintained O’Callaghan.

That leadership will be required on Saturday week against Kildare in the Leinster final.

“I think they’re scoring over 20 points, or 20 scores, a game, in the last five or six games,” said O’Callaghan of Kildare. “They bring a big threat up front and then defensively they’re very tight at the back, they’re very physical, so yeah, it’ll be a big challenge. It’s mainly about us getting our performance right, that’s the way we’re looking at it, getting the full 70 minutes right.”

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Paul Keane

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