Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport GAA

Cian O'Sullivan forced to dig deep to play for All-Ireland

By Declan Bogue

Be careful with what managers tell you.

Asked if Cian O'Sullivan had to undergo a fitness test to ensure his inclusion, and the pivotal role he plays sweeping and organising this Dublin defence, and his manager Jim Gavin answered: "He trained all week. We didn't fitness test him - he trained with the squad.

"I was confident having spoken with him a couple of days after the replay. He's a very determined man. I left it down to him if I'm honest."

However, ask O'Sullivan himself, and… "I was just trying to do everything in my power to get it right for the game. I went to some lengths to do that and thankfully it all paid off. I did a fitness test on Friday evening, got through that and I was able to play 60 minutes."

The O'Sullivan injury almost went unnoticed only for his final foot pass of the Mayo two-game series, when his hamstring clearly went. Those two games are now credited with giving Dublin enough of a taste for hand-to-hand combat, keeping them nice and sharp for this one.

After a fashion, it was something Gavin agreed with. "Be careful what you wish for, but in hindsight, yeah, it certainly helped us. It probably helped Kerry as well last year. Certainly when you're looking at the championship structure, for a team like Kerry to be waiting four weeks for an All-Ireland final, it's not good enough these days."

He then went on to make some general remarks that might please club footballers everywhere: "There's a big debate going on about restructuring the Championship. We've got one of the best field sports in the world. Our supporters want to see the games, our players want to play, so let's tighten it up and give our club players an opportunity to play as well.

"I know in Dublin it's been very disrupted over the summer. I look forward to seeing those games coming on in the next couple of weeks."

O'Sullivan, the languid defensive general with the Kerry parents, had to go to serious lengths to make it in time, including some replacement blood platelets, as well as spending two weeks with his leg on ice.

It's left him with three All-Ireland medals and inevitably, the comparisons with this group and their predecessors in the '70s will now become the topic of a thousand pub conversations over the winter. The man that heads it all up, plays it down of course.

"Even speaking to them there, they've enjoyed these moments and those honours are for looking back on when they've finished their careers," says Gavin.

"Nothing will ever match Kevin Heffernan's team and what he did for Dublin GAA. His spark and genius, we just stand on their shoulders really. Dublin football wouldn't be what it is today but for those teams, they got the city alive to Gaelic football so I don't we'll ever compare to those giants to the game."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph