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“I think there’s confidence there in the camp” Cian O’Sullivan ahead of championship opener

“I think there’s confidence there in the camp” Cian O’Sullivan ahead of championship opener

Thu, 18th April 2024

By Paul Keane

Championship time and a familiar sense of cautious optimism for Cian O'Sullivan.

"I think there's confidence there in the camp when everyone is firing and everyone is doing what they're expected to do that we can put it up to anyone," said the Dublin forward enthusiastically.

It's Wexford first up this Sunday, away, and while that's a challenging start to Dublin's Leinster SHC campaign, O'Sullivan has reason to be excited.

His league form was good, returning 1-28 in five starts, and he feels the group as a whole 'are moving well', in training and in challenge games. For the final three games of Dublin's campaign, he was joined by former captain Chris Crummey and back-to-back All-Star nominee Donal Burke, the 36th and 37th players to feature competitively for Micheal Donoghue's side this year.

Crummey didn't play at all for Dublin last year while Burke needed all of autumn and winter to fully recover from a serious hamstring injury.

Speaking at an event organised by Staycity Aparthotels who are supporting Dublin GAA in all four codes for the next five years, O'Sullivan said it feels like things are coming together for the group at the right time.

He is hopeful that they've learned from the speed bumps they encountered throughout spring, ultimately picking up two wins from five outings in the league.

"We probably could have capitalised better on our second-half against Tipperary and then going down to Galway and not coming away with some sort of a result after a reasonably decent performance for 50 minutes was disappointing," said O'Sullivan. "They just got on top of us for the last 15 minutes.

"At the end of the day, you just had to take your learnings from it and I think we have done that over the last five or six weeks, we've put in a good shift. All things are moving well in the camp and I'm just looking forward to getting back on the road."

Dublin's provincial campaign will both begin and end with a testing road trip, to Wexford this weekend and then to Galway in Round 5 in late May. In between they will face Carlow in Round 2 before hosting both Antrim and Kilkenny.

These are the days that 26-year-old Hydrologist O'Sullivan lives for and he is desperate to make a big contribution as one of the more established members of the group.

"I got the call in what was Ger Cunningham's last year in charge, in 2017," he said. "It was a big change at the time compared to growing up playing with lads of your own age. All of a sudden you are in the same dressing-room as Liam Rushe and Gary Maguire. Never mind the amount of experience those guys had but just the sheer size of those lads when you were 18 years old, going in with lads who had been in there 10 or 12 years.

"I think it gave me the standing to go forward and to be the player I am today."

O'Sullivan will be a marked man in Wexford, and throughout the campaign, given his ability to snipe scores and conjure goals. Growing up he played mostly as a centre-back but got his break in the forwards shortly after joining the Dublin senior setup.

"It was actually a funny conversation one of the days before a Walsh Cup game," smiled O'Sullivan. "Ger Cunningham was like, 'Cian, I'm going to play you corner-back'. I just put the foot down and said, 'Ger, to be honest with you now, I've never played corner-back in my life'. He says, 'Where, then?' And I said, 'Sure put me in corner-forward'. I scored 1-2 in the Walsh Cup game and that was that."

He's had a break or two over the years - indulging his wanderlust in 2019 when taking off on a J1 and finding in 2020 that he had to give a full commitment to his Geology degree at university - but, for the most part, he has remained a consistent part of Dublin's attacks.

"Last year I felt I gained confidence, the game starts to slow down for you when you've a couple of years under the belt," said O'Sullivan. "Lads start trusting you more too. I definitely think putting time in with the same lads on the pitch is a big aspect of being in the forwards. Lads have to trust you and you have to trust them. This year I'm scoring reasonably well and hopefully that'll continue over the next few weeks."

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