Cian O'Sullivan glad Dublin's unbeaten run has ended
DUBLIN defender Cian O'Sullivan has admitted he's glad they can begin their quest for a three-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles without the ‘distraction' of a lengthy unbeaten record.
Dublin's Allianz Football League final defeat to Kerry earlier this month was their first loss in either the League or Championship since the start of March, 2015, when they also lost to Kerry.
In between, the back-to-back All-Ireland winners went 36 games unbeaten and set a new record for avoiding defeat when they hammered Roscommon in round six of this year's League.
O'Sullivan said that while the players tried their best to avoid the unbeaten talk, it was difficult and he described it as a ‘positive' that they'll enter the Championship with a clean slate.
“It's definitely something that, if you look to take a positive out of things – and you are probably well aware that players try and steer clear of all those (record) issues as best we can and we wouldn't have been paying too much heed to the unbeaten run and however many games it was – but it was just so widely talked about and publicised, among your friends and family, or in the media, that it was very hard to get away from it,” said experienced O'Sullivan.
“It does seep into your subconscious and therefore can become a bit of a distraction to your preparations for the game.
‘‘That is done away with now. That distraction isn't there. So is it a positive going into the summer? Yeah. It probably is. It's a good thing that that distraction is kind of gone now.”
The 29-year-old said he found it difficult to escape discussions about the unbeaten run while in his day job as a tax consultant.
“You'd have clients or even just work colleagues saying it to you and it's hard to escape everyone,” admitted O'Sullivan.
“If a client is sitting across from you and talking about it you can't really tell them (to stop), or just walk away. You try and change the subject.”
The Kilmacud Crokes clubman reckons another positive that Dublin can take from the League final defeat is that they outscored old rivals Kerry down the stretch again.
Dublin trailed by five points after Donnchadh Walsh's 57th minute point for Kerry but outscored Eamonn Fitzmaurice's men by 1-4 to 0-3 from there on to lose by just one.
In the six major games that the sides have played out this decade – the 2011 and 2015 All-Ireland finals, the 2013 and 2016 semi-finals and the last two League finals – Dublin have outscored Kerry by 6-20 to 0-12 from the 60th minute onwards.
It is an obvious psychological advantage that Dublin hold and one which O'Sullivan acknowledged is important heading into the Championship.
“There are a lot of positives we can take out of the game and that's probably the main one,” he said. “We looked dead and buried with a couple of minutes to go in that game but we showed great mental resilience again.
“And that's a common theme in this team in the last couple of years that we have been able to dig out results and come from behind and stick to our plan.
“That mental resolve is huge and it's great we showed it again against Kerry and we just came up short in the end.”
O'Sullivan said that Dublin's downfall was their lapse early in the second-half when Kerry hit them for six points without reply.
“We had a spell in the second-half, probably the third quarter, when our distribution of the ball was just awful,” said the four-time All-Ireland medallist.
“Kerry turned us over, came down and kicked a few good scores. That really punished us. I think probably the winning of the game from Kerry's perspective was in that period.”