Dublin faced arguably their toughest Leinster final test in seven years today, and still shrugged off the challenge of Kildare relatively comfortably at Croke Park, beating their opponents (if not the spread) by nine points. While Kevin Feeley and Daniel Flynn were superb for Kildare, Dublin simply had too much scoring power for the Lilywhites.
For Dublin, Bernard Brogan was outstanding, but he was outscored by Cuala's Con O'Callaghan. With Dean Rock black-carded, O'Callaghan took responsibility for the frees...and kicked a total of 0-12, half of that total from play.
He was RTE's Man of the Match, which burnishes his haul from his first Leinster senior football final. Not that there's too much space on the shelf.
Journalist Shane Stapleton flagged his ridiculous medal haul since September of last:
Con O'Callaghan, Sept 2016 to today:
Leinster SH club
All-Ireland SH club
— Shane Stapleton (@ShaneSaint) July 16, 2017
Just the seven medals there, many of which players have given their lives in pursuit of.
O'Callaghan is now the red-hot favourite to win the Young Footballer of the Year: 6/4 to win the prize before the game, the odds on O'Callaghan to do so now are 1/14 on.
No such thing as a sure thing in sport, except for Con O'Callaghan winning 2017 young player of the year.
— Eoin Sheahan (@EoinSheahan) July 16, 2017
The Con O'Callaghan show...#GAA
— John McAreavey (@john_mcareavey) July 16, 2017
— Laura Allen (@Laureeeeyy) July 16, 2017
Today felt like a Rubicon moment for O'Callaghan. With Diarmuid Connolly suspended, and Dean Rock off the field, it was O'Callaghan stepped up to lead the Dublin forward line with Brogan. It had been expected that it was only a matter of time until O'Callaghan became an indispensable member of the Dubs' forward line, and today looks like it will prove to be that day. His unerring accuracy from placed balls will heap a little pressure on Dean Rock, too, in the Darwinian scrap for a Dublin jersey. Such are their riches, the automatic return of Diarmuid Connolly after suspension should Dublin make the semi-final should not be taken as a guarantee.
But it has generally been assumed that O'Callaghan would be in this position sooner rather than later, even when he was scoring points like these for Cuala:
So if Dublin defend their All-Ireland title, it will be just the third All-Ireland medal in a year for O'Callaghan.