Dublin’s ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan unwilling to walk away just yet

Back injury has prompted thoughts of retirement but veteran hopes to play on in 2017

David O’Callaghan in action against Kilkenny. “If I’m going to be there in 2017 – and hopefully I can get back – I’ll be giving my best to the group that’s there.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

David O’Callaghan in action against Kilkenny. “If I’m going to be there in 2017 – and hopefully I can get back – I’ll be giving my best to the group that’s there.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

David O’Callaghan read an article recently in which Martin Comerford suggested he had perhaps retired too soon from the Kilkenny panel.

It came as a timely pick-me-up because the Dublin forward has been grappling with the issue of retirement himself and getting the sense that everything was pointing towards the exit door.

O’Callaghan’s back went into spasm during last May’s championship clash with Wexford and he underwent surgery in October to relieve the pressure being placed upon a nerve by a prolapsed disc.

‘Dotsy’ returned to some light bike work at the weekend but there is still some discomfort in his foot, a tell-tale symptom of nerve compression, and there are no guarantees he will play for Dublin again.

The funny thing is, he’d planned to retire after the 2016 Championship anyhow though he has since got the old urge back again and fancies another crack at it next season.

“You do feel like it’s time to get the hell out in all honesty,” said O’Callaghan.

“I haven’t been able to play since the summer but then I heard Martin Comerford talking last week and he was saying he had finished up a bit early and he could have stayed on a bit, that when you’re gone you’re gone but then you don’t want to be doing any damage to your back as well.

“I’ll weigh it up over the next few months. I’ll get working with the physio. I’m looking forward to getting back at a bit of stuff. It’s kind of wait and see.”

No two back injuries are the same and O’Callaghan admitted it’ll probably take 12-18 months before he can say for certain that the nerve has settled. At 33, he doesn’t have that sort of time to play around with.

Best days

“Even looking at Cuala last weekend, it was very refreshing watching that and it would give you the inspiration as well to go back.”

O’Callaghan would like to get back hurling by March. Dublin manager Ger Cunningham could do with his experience given the influx of youth that’s anticipated in the coming weeks. That panel shake-up is partly by design and partly a consequence of Cunningham falling out with a group of players who have left the panel.

Michael Carton and Peter Kelly have both had a public pop at Cunningham while Paul Ryan noted pointedly on social media that he walked from the panel and wasn’t shoved.

O’Callaghan said it’s a little awkward to have so many former colleagues sticking the knife in.

“It is a little, to be honest,” he said. “I’ve had some of the best days of my lives with those lads. But, I mean, ultimately if you’re selected on the squad you have to basically give yourself to the squad 100 per cent and you have to commit to the lads that are there. If I’m going to be there in 2017 – and hopefully I can get back – I’ll be giving my best to the group that’s there.”

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