David ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan has confirmed his return to the Dublin senior hurling panel after a serious back injury threatened to end his inter-county career.
The 33-year-old forward is now aiming to stake a claim for a championship jersey when the Dubs face Galway in the Leinster SHC quarter-final on May 28.
The St Marks sharpshooter underwent surgery last October after he was diagnosed with nerve damage related to a prolapsed disc.
O’Callaghan believes that the issue may relate back to an injury he suffered playing in an U21 football match 10 years ago but it got progressively worse following last year’s Leinster championship defeat to Kilkenny.
He was ruled out of action from then until coming through some recent club games unscathed.
And he’s been back with the Dublin squad in the past fortnight, as manager Ger Cunningham focuses in on the Galway test at O’Connor Park in Tullamore.
O’Callaghan underwent a series of injections before surgery became a live option.
He recalls: “Without surgery, you try to strengthen the area and go that route but it wasn’t really easing. I had an EMG test and I was in Japan at the time the surgeon was trying to ring me to get back and get going with an operation.
“I was flying home from Hong Kong and getting a bit worried because I was quite uncomfortable on the flight. That was last September, and I had surgery in October.” The EMG (electromyogram) and nerve conduction studies diagnosed nerve damage on a high scale for O’Callaghan.
And he revealed: “I could feel it into my toes and there was a fear of foot drop. As the surgeon said to me, you don’t know the full outcome of the nerve regeneration, it could take two years. I can still feel symptoms down into my foot but it’s not affecting me or affecting the power or anything like that.
“I got one of those reflex tests in the back of the knee and ankle and it’s gone in the ankle, there’s no reflex in it. I can still feel the nerve into the sole of my foot, it’s weird, but it’s not huge discomfort.
“I’m back running now and I’ve had a good month’s training, working with strength and conditioning coach Cillian Reardon and physio Eamon O’Reilly.”
O’Callaghan acknowledges that Dublin couldn’t have asked for a much tougher championship opener against the Allianz League finalists.
He said: “You would certainly put Galway up among the top teams at the moment. They’ve proven that by getting to the League final as well.
“They’ve got a hugely strong squad and they’re progressing nicely along. I’m sure it’s going to be a huge battle.”
* Members of Dessie Farrell’s Dublin U21 football panel have taken the agonising decision not to line out for their clubs in the first round of the county senior football championship over the coming days.
Dublin’s players met on Tuesday and decided not to make themselves available for club duty, ahead of the EirGrid All-Ireland U21 final clash with Galway in Tullamore on Saturday week.
A full round of first round Dublin SFC games is down for decision over the next three days, starting this evening with five matches. The stand-out tie is the meeting of Ballyboden St Enda’s and St Oliver Plunketts/Eoghan Ruadh at Parnell Park and as things stand, Ballyboden will be lining out without Colm Basquel and Shane Clayton.
Of the 21 players used in the recent All-Ireland semi-final victory over Donegal, ten clubs were represented.
All 10, namely Ballymun Kickhams, Raheny, Kilmacud Crokes, Na Fianna, Lucan Sars, Thomas Davis, Clontarf, Ballyboden, Cuala and Skerries Harps, are scheduled to play before Saturday evening in knockout games.
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