Ciarán Kilkenny cautions Dublin tyro Con O’Callaghan to balance workload

All-Star Dublin footballer Ciarán Kilkenny says he’s advised rising star Con O’Callaghan to manage his workload carefully.

Kilkenny was a talented dual player at underage level and answered the call of many teams, similar to fellow forward O’Callaghan now, though he reckons his cruciate knee ligament injury in 2014 was partly down to being so busy.

Three-time All-Ireland winner Kilkenny was able to take the positives from the experience but wants O’Callaghan to avoid the same pitfalls.

O’Callaghan claimed a remarkable third All-Ireland winners medal in the space of just eight months last weekend when Dublin won the EirGrid U-21 title.

The Cuala sensation was a panel member last October when Dublin won the senior All-Ireland and he’ll be pushing hard for regular game time this summer.

“The only advice I have ever given to him is to just manage his load,” said Kilkenny. “He’s a highly talented individual in football and hurling, he went on a great run with Cuala, he had the U-21s to juggle and he would have had his college on to him and then he wants do well with the Dublin senior football team as well.

“So my advice was, I just said to him to take each competition as it comes and make sure you’re getting proper rest and recovery.

“As I’ve learned previously, you can’t play and train all the time, you’re not Superman. You have to take a break and let your body recover.”

Con O’Callaghan
Con O’Callaghan

The 23-year-old Castleknock man nodded when asked if he felt his own busy underage schedule contributed to his cruciate injury in early 2014.

“Definitely, yeah,” said Kilkenny. “You’re playing for so many teams, you want to do everything, you want to please everyone and to do as best as you can for everyone. I suppose when you’re that young you just want to be involved in everything and you don’t want to miss out on anything.

“You want to play and be as successful as you can, but having done that cruciate you learn so much.

“You know, when you’re playing so many games you don’t really get much of an opportunity to develop as a person, so when you do get injured and you go from one extreme to another, 100 mph to zero, it does allow you that time to develop as a person and to have a better insight and kind of let your body know what it needs to do and what it can’t do.

“When I came back then I knew exactly what I needed to do and I really went after recovery and I’m a fresher player because of it.”

Kilkenny has shown his adaptability for Dublin in recent seasons, beginning life as a scoring forward in the inside line but playing in both the half-back and half-forward lines last season.

He divided opinion at times though with his constant recycling of possession which was hailed as mature by some commentators and criticised by others for not being direct enough.

Kilkenny got on the ball a staggering 53 times in the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Donegal, roughly once every 85 seconds.

“Anytime I did have the ball I was probably doing what I thought was best for the team,” said Kilkenny.

“Sometimes you’re playing against defensive systems and you have to be a bit more patient on the ball because if you do turn the ball over they’re set up in such a defensive formation it gives the other team a great lift.

“So you just have to wait and be patient for the right opportunity for when to penetrate.

“That just comes down to making the right decision for the team, whether it’s going forward or adding a bit of pace or whether it’s slowing it up and waiting for someone else to come up.”


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