Dublin star Cian O’Sullivan facing final fitness fight

Cian O’Sullivan may have been helped off the field after Dublin’s semi-final replay victory over Mayo last Sunday, but Jim Gavin was bullish yesterday about the centre-back’s prospects of facing Kerry in the All-Ireland final.

The Kilmacud Crokes centre-back has a history of back and hamstring- related injuries and he pulled up in some pain at the very end of that replay win before being assisted off by two members of the back room team.

Selector Declan Darcy said Dublin are “optimistic” he will be available and the player himself has told Gavin - who described the matter rather euphemistically as cramp rather than hamstring – he is “confident” of being fit.

The team’s medical personnel have apparently echoed that line and, while there is talk that he may avail of cryotherapy to fast track the recovery, Gavin is of the belief his familiarity with this particular injury and how to deal with it will be of help.

“Yeah, that’s actually a benefit because he knows exactly where he’s at. This isn’t the first time he’s had it, so he’s very accustomed to the process and he knows his body quite well, so he’s very confident that he can make it.”

O’Sullivan has filled the number six sector through which Donegal wreaked such havoc in the 2014 semi-final and there are no ideal Plan Bs in any event of his absence, with John Small, who featured heavily earlier in the league, inexperienced and lacking pace.

It could be Philly McMahon could fill the vacancy given he has played there for his club, but that would be to extend the need for changes into the full-back line, so any news on O’Sullivan will be keenly awaited.

So will Alan Brogan’s intentions beyond Sunday week. The veteran forward said yesterday he will delay a decision on his future as an inter-county footballer until well into the coming off-season, but the Dublin forward believes the days of 33-year-olds like him playing in All-Ireland finals are coming to an end.

“It’s getting more and more difficult every year as my kids get older and I get older,” he said. “It’s not a decision I’ve made yet and it’s not a decision I’ll make until a number of weeks after this match when I’ll be able to sit back and reflect. Like, I’ve enjoyed this year. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, to be honest. I’ve probably enjoyed training more this year than I had the last few years because I’ve been injury-free but, look, it’s not a decision I’ve made at the moment.”

He has two children now, the second only arriving earlier this year, and he took time at yesterday’s All-Ireland final team press day to reminisce on the beginning in 2002 and how things were when he was a coltish sensation playing for Tommy Lyons.

“The game was a little bit different at that stage. There probably was some older guys playing. Dessie Farrell and Jim (Gavin) were playing. I’m not sure what age they were when they finished up, but in years to come I don’t think we will see too many 33-year olds playing. There are a few now.

“Marc Ó Sé down in Kerry, myself, Stephen Cluxton, Denis Bastick, Aidan O’Mahony and Dick Clerkin. There’s not that many around now at that age because of the demands of the modern game and I think it is only going to get less and less as the years go on.”

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