Con O’Callaghan may still be just 23 years of age but with four All-Ireland titles under his belt, the Cuala man is quickly becoming an experienced head in Jim Gavin’s side.
In the first game against Kerry just over a fortnight ago, the Kingdom limited O’Callaghan to just one point as they failed to take advantage of the extra man to only draw with the reigning champions.
In the second game O’Callaghan made sure to punish Peter Keane’s charges, scoring four points and putting in a brilliant display as he, Paul Mannion and Ciaran Kilkenny tormented the Kerry defence and sent Dublin on their way to five in a row.
The relief for Dublin at the end of the game was palpable given the way in which they rescued a draw against Kerry in the first game while down to 14 men.
O’Callaghan who picked up his Player of the Month award for August at the PwC offices on Thursday, outlined that after the draw it was initially difficult to prepare for the second game even explaining that he and a host of the Dublin team had a weekend away booked before the first final – such was the unlikelihood of a draw.
“There was nine of us from the team that had a weekend in Berlin booked – a music festival over there. The last couple of days before the match, you were just thinking ‘that’ll be it, there’ll be a result here, win or lose, there’ll be a result anyway’.
“Then having to reset, those two or three days after are really tough after the game. You’re a bit low for a couple of days, but then you regroup together, it was good.”
The win over Kerry was unquestionably one of the toughest of O’Callaghan’s four All-Ireland titles, but given the weight behind it, it was also one of the sweetest.
O’Callaghan outlined that for him the immediate emotion of being a part of a five-in-a-row, history-making Dublin team was actually relief.
“It was amazing. Probably relief as much as anything as well. Particularly after the first day, it was such a tight encounter. With the sending off and us scraping to get a draw but also having a chance to win, the head was a bit all over the place for a couple of days.
“But after that, we put that behind us on the Wednesday after, set our stall out for the final and to actually do it, come out after a bit of adversity was amazing.”
At the final whistle, O’Callaghan shared an emotional moment with both his mother and father in the stands after a victory that will forever etch this Dublin team in the history books.
The Cuala man explained that it was brilliant getting to share such a massive achievement with his family on the Croke Park pitch.
“(When the referee) blew the whistle, hands straight in the air, it was just relief and euphoria, and everything coming together. I ran to the middle of the pitch, hugging the lads.
“Then my Dad was wrestling his way down the sideline, wrestling his way through everyone, I went over and gave him a hug. My mom came down as well.
“My family was just there. It was special to see them straight after the whistle. We came down, got a couple of snaps, yeah it was good.”
PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for August, footballer Con O’Callaghan (Dublin) and September Player of the Month, footballer Sean O’Shea (Kerry), were at PwC offices in Dublin today to pick up their respective awards.
The players were joined by PwC Managing Partner, Feargal O’Rourke, Uachtarán Chumann Lúthcleas, John Horan, and GPA Chief Executive, Paul Flynn.