Defeat can be tough to accept as a Kerry footballer. First, you’ve got your own expectations and attempts to resolve what went wrong and what you could have done better.
Then there’s the Kerry public and their expectations; their desire to let you know where they believe the game was won and lost. Even if you’ve gotten over defeat yourself, there’s always a local who has not, someone with an opinion they feel needs an ear.
12 years into his inter-county career, Darran O’Sullivan is used to shrugging off defeat but he knows too that the opportunities to not have to do so are quickly dwindling.
Earlier this summer, chances for local football experts to bend his ear increased. “I opened a bar-restaurant there at the start of the summer, so I can't avoid it!”
“To be fair, I went hiding for the first few days after the Mayo game, but you get used it. Most people, in fairness, they come in, they're genuine people - genuine football fans. They just want to talk about football, and I don't mind that."
O’Sullivan takes the view that it would be far worse if nobody wanted to talk to him about football. Though, he would like just a little bit of ‘cop-on’ from supporters who want to let their opinions be known immediately after defeat. He’d like the rawness of the situation taken into account.
Like, you want them to be demanding, to be fair. You want them to demand and expect All-Irelands, because if they don't, they don't believe in you. The fact that they demand and expect it means that they kind of back you, that they think you're good enough to win it, which is a good thing.
Maybe the whole coming up to you after, and saying, 'You should have...[done this]' That's just basic cop-on, really, like. Fellas are low enough as it is, they don't need someone telling them what they should have done.
But I don't think anyone in Kerry, or no footballer, minds the demands being high, the expectation being high. We have high expectation, we demand a lot of ourselves anyway. But sometimes it can be tough; you're disappointed as it is, you expect to win All-Irelands, you demand the best of yourself; when you don't play well, you know you don't play well, but you don't need somebody you don't know coming up, telling you exactly what you should have done, what you shouldn't have done. And to be fair, more often than not, they've hardly kicked a ball themselves.
It’s nearly three years since O’Sullivan left his job with Ulster Bank. Initially, it was spun that his decision was another signpost on a route to GAA professionalism. However, it was simply the Kerryman concentrating on another career avenue.
I was working for Sky Sports in the Living for Sports initiative, so I think I told people exactly what it was: I wanted to concentrate on something else. And they changed it into [saying] that I was going to be a professional footballer.
I was actually doing more travelling, more work, but I was able to judge it myself, I was in charge of my own calendar. So I was traveling three, four, sometimes five days a week all over the country, going to different schools with the Living for Sport campaign, and that was what I changed my job for, not for...(laughs)...[football].
At the time of the leaving his old job, O’Sullivan had been a peripheral figure in the Kerry team which had just won the 2014 All-Ireland. Injuries had much to do with his status.
Though he guffaws at having been labeled a professional footballer at the time, the new job did enable the improvement of his game.
“I was off for the summer. I was practically like a teacher, working off a teacher's calendar. I knew I could work hard mostly during the league, to get my travel out of the way, knowing full well that I'd be off for the summer to concentrate on Kerry.”
Sky Sports today announced it is partnering with the GAA on three major grassroots initiatives which will see the broadcaster invest a total of €3m over five years. Today’s announcement was made alongside the launch of The GAA Super Games Centres at GAA National Games Development Centre, Abbotstown; the first of the three grassroots initiatives that Sky Sports will support. Dublin player and newly crowned All Ireland champion Con O’Callaghan and Sky mentors Carla Rowe and Darran O’Sullivan were in attendance to announce Sky Sports’ new grassroots partnership with the GAA.