“I’m very aware that there’s a possibility that things can dry up and they can dry up pretty quickly. Look at Dublin from 1996-2011.”
O’Callaghan’s crucial punch-in goal put Dublin on course to claim an unprecedented sixth All-Ireland title in succession. The Cuala man has been involved in just the five.
Under manager Dessie Farrell, he has relished the challenge of playing centre-forward which has allowed him to become more involved with play.
Speaking to the media after winning his award, O’Callaghan was asked how he was adapting to his new role in the half-forward line.
“Yeah I suppose it’s a new challenge, that’s the way you look at it,” O’Callaghan said.
“The runs you make inside might be a lot different to the runs you make [out the field].
“They’re probably a lot more sharper, shorter runs inside when you’re trying to wrong-foot your man. In the half-forward line you can make those longer runs, you can get on the ball a lot more, so it’s a different challenge.
“It’s something you try and make your own. You try and see how will I most effectively play this role. What would be my best contribution to the team? How can I best impact the play from centre-forward or full forward?
“It’s that little challenge and it’s enjoyable to figure out what’s working and what isn’t.”
The switch from Jim Gavin to Dessie Farrell has been a seemingly seamless transition for the Dublin footballers.
O’Callaghan has enjoyed success under both managers despite the two having very contrasting styles of management.
“I suppose Dessie is probably a little bit more of a man-to-man manager,” the five-time All-Ireland winner outlined.
“He’s really good at that and he probably gets a little bit more involved. Jim [Gavin] liked taking the objective view and would stand back. He’d have a look at the wider scheme of things.
“Dessie probably gets a little bit more involved. You know, running the drills and even just close-up personal conversations and stuff like that.
“Jim would have had a vision. Dessie is probably a little bit more up close and personal man-to-man.
“So it’s nice to have a little change like that. But like, in fairness to both, both their styles are really effective. They worked really well so far.”
Con O’Callaghan (Dublin) pictured above with his PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month – Finals Award.
For most inter-county players, one All-Ireland is the be-all and end-all.
However, Con O’Callaghan has now won five All-Ireland titles with Dublin, with no sign of slowing down.
He revealed how a chat with Kilkenny hurler Richie Hogan has helped him narrow his focus further, knowing the good times won’t last forever.
O’Callaghan was asked does he ever think of the fact that he has won five All-Irelands at the age of just 24: “I was actually chatting to Richie Hogan when we were organising this event,” he replied.
“He works in the GPA, and he said the same thing to me. I was like ‘Oh yeah, but you were probably the same,’ I think he had something like six or seven All-Irelands before the age of 26 or 27.
“And he said, ‘you know, I haven’t seen once since.'”
— The GAA (@officialgaa) December 19, 2020
That line is a reminder of how quickly things can change and the two-time All Star winner is more than aware of that possibility. He doesn’t have to look too far from home for an example.
He continued: “So I’m very aware that there’s a possibility that things can dry up and they can dry up pretty quickly. Look at Dublin from 1996-2011.
“They always promised and people thought they would do it and there would be a dominance and there absolutely wasn’t.
“So we’re lucky in the period we are in at the moment.
“We’re just trying to keep that going but yeah, I am aware that it has been an extremely successful period that I’ve been lucky enough to come into.”
Two of the best goals you'll ever see grace Croke Park from the boy wonder Con O'Callaghan. But which was your favourite?
Comment A for that beauty against Tyrone
Comment B for that special goal against Mayo pic.twitter.com/nUaYclsDgX
— Hill 16 Army (@Hill16Army) December 7, 2017
His focus turns to this year but with the 2021 inter-county season still up in the air, O’Callaghan isn’t overly exerting himself.
With no collective training taking place until at least the start of February, inter-county players have been forced to do their own work.
While the Dublin forward has been keeping himself busy in his home gym, he has also been enjoying the break.
He said: “Yeah, should probably get back on it really. We have a little shed in the back garden that we got a few years ago. Bit of gym equipment up there so have been tipping away with that.
“Also a bit of injury prevention because potentially the season is going to be very short again for matches. It’s going to be pretty fundamental that you stay fit for the entire season.
While at the start of January, Dublin players were given a program to follow on a Zoom meeting, O’Callaghan is looking forward to taking it handy for the rest of the month.
He continued: “We had a Zoom call, I think it was two weeks ago, where they just outlined a S&C gym and running program that we can do but personally, I’ve taken a bit of a break since the final, just tipping away at the gym.
“I’ll get out running myself but it will probably be light enough to start off with, get myself in some sort of shape. Then probably back in with Dublin in February.
“It’s not too hectic at the moment. It’s actually nice to get a break.”
Finally, in the midst of another lockdown, O’Callaghan was asked how competitive some of the running times get in the Dublin Whatsapp group.
Five kilometre times have become something of a social-media trend and the Dublin football team were no exception.
O’Callaghan said: “Well we mostly wouldn’t do those longer distance runs but yeah we had to do a few during lockdown.”
However, some players were questioning some of the times put up on the group.
“I think there were a few lads unhappy that some people were potentially altering the times or they felt they were too good,” he quipped.
“There was a bit of dispute around some lad’s times!”
While O’Callaghan, and many of the Dublin players will enjoy the break, you get the sense they will be as hungry as ever when preparations eventually start for the seven-in-a-row.