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Seasoned O'Sullivan sticking to winning habit

 

By Declan Bogue

The day before any All-Ireland final has a decidedly Joycean twist for Dublin's sweeper extraordinaire Cian O'Sullivan, as he ambles along to the opening scene of Ulysses - The Forty Foot - for a swim in the salt waters of Sandycove.

"Generally I'd do that before most games at The Forty Foot," says the Kilmacud Crokes man.

"Then just head up home. My mother cooks a lovely big meal and I sit down with my girlfriend Danielle then and just watch a movie before the game."

The day before any final is about avoiding any distractions, but two years ago O'Sullivan's parents - who both hail from Kerry, that final's opponents - were invited to be the subject of a feature for the 'Up for the Match' special, the Saturday night staple of pre-All-Ireland final coverage.

Their son knew nothing of it, of course.

"I didn't know that they were going to be on it because I would have gone mad!" laughs the accountant.

"Danielle had control of the remote control and she was very keen to make sure we didn't go past RTE 2 when we were flicking through the channels."

By now, O'Sullivan has played in five finals, winning four of them and drawing one.

As one of the most experienced players, he's learning to get his head up and take in the scene around him rather than shutting himself off completely from the carnival around him.

Last year was his first memory of the journey from team hotel to Croke Park, as he recounts: "People are banging on the bus and cheering it as it drives by... previously I would have kept the head down and the earphones in and just not got distracted.

"But now I've found myself looking out and trying to take it in and enjoy it because I know how special a place it is to be as well.

"I'm really trying to savour those moments because, with the experience of playing in the last number of All-Irelands and being in those big games, I know how to deal with those things and they don't distract me."

He continues: "It's definitely something I've been conscious of over the last number of years - trying to enjoy it. Because it is such a big deal, that's probably not at the forefront of your mind. What's at the forefront of your mind is executing what you have to do for the team."

With all that said, he will stick to what he knows, his consistency down through the past nine seasons testament to that.

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