King Con crowns 2017

by Karl Graham
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CON O’Callaghan completed an incredible 12 months for the Cuala youngster as he picked up his second senior All-Ireland medal after Dublin defeated Mayo 1-17 to 1-16 at Croke Park – with the forward finding the back of the net for the first score of the game.
The 21-year-old UCD student was a member of the Dublin panel who beat Mayo in last year’s All-Ireland final before the dual star helped lead his club side to become the first Dublin team to win an All-Ireland club hurling title.
A month later and O’Callaghan had that winning feeling once again as part of the Dublin Under-21 side that defeated Galway in the All-Ireland final.
While O’Callaghan played no on-field part in Dublin’s victory over Mayo last year, it was much different this time round as he launched Dublin to the perfect start with a sublime goal after less than two minutes.
He came short for the ball before scampering around Colm Boyle and charging through the Mayo defence. The best part of O’Callaghan’s strike, however, was the finish. David Clarke is one of the best shot stoppers in the business but belied his youth to keep his composure and produce a deft finish into the corner of the net.
He was joined in the senior panel by club mate Conor Mulally while Michael Fitzsimons was in the full-backline yet again, making it five All-Ireland title wins for him.
In the end, the tie was settled by an injury time free by Dean Rock for a 1-17 to 1-16 victory, making it three in a row for Dublin.
“Composure has been the hallmark of these guys,” manager Jim Gavin said afterwards. “They work so hard at their game and are very disciplined in what they do. The sacrifices they make to play Gaelic games is phenomenal.
“That composure when they went two points ahead and had the crowd behind them – there is a perception Mayo had the momentum but in the last quarter we probably outscored them four points to one.
“Recent Dublin [versus] Mayo games have been nip and tuck so I don’t think it was a surprise to our players that there was very little in it going into the last few minutes. I thought our boys showed good composure when the game was there to be won.
“That shows how present the Dublin players were in the game. For them to turn it around and finish so strongly was satisfying,” said Gavin.
The two finalists appear to have moved clear of the chasing pack with plenty of talk of splitting Dublin due to their power in recent years.
But Gavin believes there is very little between many of the big teams and it inevitably comes down to the work put in by the layers throughout the year.”

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