Cian O’Sullivan eyes magic eighth title in Saturday’s showdown

by Stephen Findlater

Cian O’Sullivan is hoping his “body can deliver” as he looks to play a role in a potential eighth All-Ireland senior football championship success.

The Kilmacud Crokes man, 32, says injury issues in recent years have come at inopportune times but he is still hopeful of playing a role in Saturday’s showdown with Mayo and beyond.

“Right now, there’s an All-Ireland final on Saturday and that’s all I’m focused on, as long as my body can deliver then I’ll keep going because it’s such a privileged place to be,” he said this week.

“In 2018, the semi-final and the final, I got two hamstring issues and then before last year’s final as well, in the lead up to that.

“Timing-wise it’s not been great.

“It’s part of playing inter-county football, the injuries, it’s something that I’ve had to battle probably my whole career and moreso in recent years, probably just because of the mileage on the clock!

“In a strange way, I’m used to [managing injury], which is possibly a good thing, I know what I need to do.

“I know what’s worked for me in the past, what’s not worked and I’m feeling really good now.

O’Sullivan is in rarefied company as one of a handful of survivors from 2011 in line for the magic eight.

James McCarthy and Stephen Cluxton have been ever-present starters with Kevin McManamon and Philly McMahon as highly effective subs.

“It’s a nice reference point. To be mentioned in the company of those lads at any time is really nice, but it’s not something that really motivates me or drives me.

“That bubble that we have within the team, trying to be the absolute best team that we can be, to sustain that and be consistent with that and not be a flash in the pan and a one-hit wonder, that’s what really drives me and motivates me.

“That creates a massive competitive drive. To get involved and to be on the 26, or to play some part, it’s a massive motivator.”

Between his experience and the injury issues, O’Sullivan jokes there is a sense of getting on a little bit, particularly since becoming a father earlier this year to Bonnie. In that context, Covid-19 has provided an unforeseen blessing in combining work, training and family life.

“I’ve been working at home a lot more than I normally would have been. So, I have had that time at home to be a dad and to be there.

“I honestly would see how difficult it is had it been a normal year, being gone to work early in the morning, out the door at half 7 so I wouldn’t see her in the morning and then if you’re training that evening you’re not getting home until 9 or half 9, so the whole day is gone.

“If you’re doing that three or four times a week, it’s pretty limited time that you’re getting with your new child. I could see that being quite difficult in any other circumstances. A plus side of Covid for me has been that that hasn’t been the case.”

Push could come to shove in more “normal” times with O’Sullivan adding he will “cross that bridge when I get to it” but adds: “There’s a lot of players that have kids and they manage to balance everything, so we’ll see.”

As one of two parents in the panel – fellow Crokes man Rory O’Carroll the other – it would lend its weight to his role as one of the knowledgeable elders but O’Sullivan says it is more organic a process than that in the panel.

“Senior players have a role for showing the younger players the ropes, but there’s nothing deliberate there,” O’Sullivan said.

“It just kind of happens naturally; they learn the values and standards of what’s required to be a Dublin footballer.

“The new guys come in and it’s just, hand the jersey down to them. It would be great to see that kind of culture live on.

“There’s been a great turnover over the last number of seasons. Will that last forever? I honestly don’t know.

“We’ve seen teams being quite dominant in certain eras, with Kilkenny and Kerry. Those teams didn’t last forever. It’ll probably be the same with this team.

“But right now the focus is Saturday. We can reflect on those things after.”

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