Dublin were expected to beat Offaly and Antrim comfortably in their first two National League games under Gilroy, the surprise choice to succeed Ger Cunningham as manager.
However, they lost heavily to Offaly at Croke Park and required an injury-time match-winning point to overcome Antrim on Sunday.
That’s left them concerned about relegation, though O’Callaghan, who retired last November after a lengthy career, maintained that they’re moving in the right direction.
“If they can hit the knockout stages of the league, just get as many games as possible, then coming into the Championship you’ve got all the squad available and some momentum,” said O’Callaghan, noting that they’re still missing their Cuala contingent. “There’s a lot of lads there that are seriously talented hurlers.
“If they can gel that together and, with Kilkenny in the first round of the Championship, that has to be a bit of a target. Is it beyond the realms of Dublin winning that game? I wouldn’t think so. It doesn’t take a whole lot for Dublin hurling to get on a bit of a roll. I think you’d be targeting that game, and that would inject huge confidence going forward, but obviously there’s a lot of work to be done before that and Pat has to try to gel all that together and get the team playing fluidly, and together, and working hard. I’m sure they’re working on that at the moment.”
O’Callaghan, who returned for duty last year after back surgery, admitted that he considered trying for a place again in 2018 under Gilroy, but simply didn’t have the appetite.
Conal Keaney, a former colleague, returned to the fold recently despite being 35.
“I did try, I went to the regional trials but to be honest I was more going there to nearly shake Pat Gilroy’s hand and wish him well,” said O’Callaghan. “That’s pretty much how it was. David Curtin had taken the Dublin south team and he was dragging at me to go out. I said I’d go to just see.
“There were slight niggles and stuff and mentally, as well, it just felt like the right time to step away. I just shook Pat Gilroy’s hand and wished him well. He gave me access to physios and medical support and he was great like that, but from my own point of view it was just a case of making the step to move on a bit.”