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Con O'Callaghan Details Three Specific Elements Of Dublin Prep That Helped Beat Mayo

Con O'Callaghan Details Three Specific Elements Of Dublin Prep That Helped Beat Mayo
By PJ Browne Updated

Here's an idea: Dublin should release a DVD of their pre-All-Ireland final A vs B game in time for Christmas. It would probably be a bestseller. The money could go to charity.

What makes that A vs B game so intriguing is the team which started the All-Ireland final against Mayo lost out by a point in the training match.

Given that it was a B-team which could have featured two former Footballers of the Year - Bernard Brogan and Michael Darragh Macauley and likely Diarmuid Connolly - it's less of a surprise. Still, it's a game you'd easily watch before laying into the mash on Christmas Day.

Con O'Callaghan, whose goal lit up the early moments of the All-Ireland decider, was part of the Dublin A-team. James McCarthy, Man of the Match on Sunday, was also on his side in that game at DCU's St. Clare's pitch.

O'Callaghan smiles as he discloses that McCarthy can be 'particularly thick' when he's on the losing side in one of those training games.

The Cuala man, who was present at a media event to announce Sky Sports’ new grassroots partnership with the GAA, says it's not the only game that the A-team lost in training this year.

That Jim Gavin's side had not been properly tested going into the All-Ireland final was a reason given as to why Mayo might have been in with a chance. It turned out Dublin had been tested, it just had not been broadcast on television.


I'd say we could have lost a couple but every A vs B game is seriously intense. There's a couple of lads who don't even make the B team and when they come in, there's a huge intensity brought to every match. The A's are looking to beat the B's and the B's are looking to beat the A's every match.

Brian Cody famously 'swallows the whistle' during Kilkenny's in-house training matches. Though, Jackie Tyrrell's new book does reveal he's able to regurgitate on special occasions. For Dublin's equivalent games, they bring in a referee.

"We get a proper referee. Full intensity, full everything - matchday warm-up. [We] go at it and there's always a bit of bite in those matches. There's always a bit of fight from everyone," explains O'Callaghan.


The lengths Dublin go to in preparation paid off on Sunday. As Dean Rock stepped up to take the free which turned out to be the winning kick, Lee Keegan threw his GPS tracker in the direction of the Dublin forward. It may have grazed Rock's leg as the stepped towards the ball.

When Rock is recreating those pressure kicks in training, his Dublin teammates are attempting to put him off. Though, no GPS trackers are thrown. It's an element they might have to add in future.

We actually put Deano in those situations in training where he has to practice the last free of the game. We do maybe a little bit of sledging as well to prepare him. We'd have a bit of shouting, maybe a bit of booing. Nothing too bad. It's just to put him in those situations.

The whole management team put a whole emphasis on attention to detail in everything. We have to prepare as best we can for each match and if that's what it takes to prepare, that's what we'll do.

Unsurprisingly, O'Callaghan adds that Rock always nails those kicks in training.

O'Callaghan's goal in the second minute of the All-Ireland final was also aided by preparation. Though, there was an element of individualism too.


The 21-year-old had it in his mind that he would take on his man, one-on-one, early in the game, just to see what would happen. What happened caused Mayo hearts to sink.

His finish, coloured by pure calm, benefited from a study of Mayo keeper David Clarke by teammate Kevin McManamon.

"Kevin Mac did a very good analysis," tells O'Callaghan. "Clarke's a really good keeper, makes himself really big. You just have to keep the ball low on the ground and if you don't he'll save it. That's all I was trying to do, keep it low in the corner."


O'Callaghan is enjoying the celebrations following Sunday's game. He's had a couple of days at it and there's another couple left. Amid those celebrations, he was nominated for Young Footballer of the Year. His attitude towards it reflects his demeanour on the pitch - as if he's someone who's been there before, 'I actually just heard from one of the other people outside,' he grins.

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.

See Also: Donegal Team "Ashamed Of Themselves" After Late Night Rampage Wrecks Island

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