DAVID O’CALLAGHAN is better placed than most to assess the effect of Dublin’s recent league final triumph on the health of hurling in the capital.
O’Callaghan’s nine to five takes him around to schools in the city centre as a coach employed by the Dublin County Board, seeking to lure youngsters towards Gaelic Games.
“Without a doubt it has brought an added buzz to it,” he said.
“Some of the schools you’re going into, you see the kids wearing Dublin jerseys and they’d be more aware of hurling having seen our game against Kilkenny. But you’re trying to get parents interested as well so that the kids will be brought to the local club down the road from them and start playing there.
“These aren’t really GAA areas so it can be quite difficult. But success at county level does help.”
Generally it falls to the Dublin footballers to provoke GAA excitement in the city. O’Callaghan witnessed that at first hand during his stint with the county football squad when Paul Caffrey was at the helm but has no qualms about switching his allegiances to the hurlers.
“It was tough at the time. But I had been aware of the underage success as well and to be honest I just wanted to get back hurling.
“I missed the hurling as well and I was looking forward to getting back. But at the back of your mind, you always dream that you can play on the big stage on the big days and in League finals and provincial finals and All-Ireland finals like every other county.”
Plying his trade in America for a summer in 2007 helped O’Callaghan rediscover his enthusiasm for the game.
“I did a summer in Boston in 2007, playing for the Wolfe Tones in football and the Galway club in the hurling. At the time it was the right thing to do for me. It was just something that I decided to do and I enjoyed it. The appetite was there to come back to the hurling then.”
Dublin’s hurling progress this season has been impressive yet O’Callaghan has targeted championship success as the next step. That starts with the challenge posed by Offaly in Sunday’s Leinster quarter-final in Croke Park.
“The one thing we have looked at this year, from the first game we played this year, is just looking at ourselves.
“Maybe last year we felt that we were progressing. Antrim deserved their win on the day against us and it made everybody look at themselves and question what they’re offering to the set-up.
“Everybody was devastated after it. When word came through that Anthony Daly was going to stay on, it showed that he had seen something in the squad because he wasn’t going to hang around for the sake of it. That was great for the players.”
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, May 25, 2011
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