DUBLIN hurling hopes have received a major boost after Ciaran Kilkenny confirmed he would like to line out for the county seniors next year.
The young Castleknock star will already be swinging a hurl for the county this summer as part of their U-21 team, but, at senior level, he is only committed to the footballers.
However, he has given a strong indication that he intends doubling up at senior level next season.
"I'd like to keep the hurling up, because I have a great passion for it," Kilkenny said. "I'm starting at college next year, so I'll have a bit of down-time and that could be an opportunity to play both hurling and football. I'd like to give it a go," he revealed.
New Dublin senior football manager Jim Gavin, who successfully managed the county U-21s, including Kilkenny, to All-Ireland glory last year, has succeeding in getting most of the young dual players to join him at senior level.
But Kilkenny revealed: "I've always said to Jim that I've a love of hurling and football. I said I'd give my priorities to the footballers this year because I'm just back from Australia and involved in a new job.
"I decided to concentrate on that (senior inter-county football) and play a bit of hurling with the club and U-21s, so that's my priority for this year. but I'm not ruling it out in future that I could play dual."
That will be music to the ears of Dublin hurling fans. Kilkenny was a member of both the county minor hurlers and footballers two years ago when they lost both All-Ireland minor finals and he was regarded as the best young hurler in the county.
Jack McCaffrey, Eric Lowndes, Cormac Costello and Emmet O Conghaile also all played on both of Dublin's high-class 2011 minor teams, but most have since committed to football only at senior level.
Kilkenny won an All-Ireland U-21 football medal last year when he also made his senior championship debut and, still only 19, was one of the few Dublin forwards to play well in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Mayo.
He was subsequently recruited by Aussie Rules club Hawthorn, but only stayed briefly last winter, quickly giving up a promising AFL career to return home and devote himself to his club and county's cause.
His potential as a senior footballer was stalled this spring when he damaged a medial knee ligament against Tyrone and missed out on the rest of Dublin's victorious Division 1 Allianz League campaign.
But he has successfully returned since to play both hurling and football for his club and has declared himself fully fit again, just in time for Dublin's upcoming Leinster quarter-final against Westmeath on June 1.
"The night I did it (the injury), I couldn't sleep because I was afraid it was the cruciate, but, thankfully, it was easy enough to come back from it," he revealed. "In hindsight, it was probably good to get the break, because I've been on the go so much over the last few years between club, county, school and Australia.
"I got to play games for the club over the last few weeks and am feeling fresh and good now. I've been training (with Dublin) for the last three weeks, so I'm available for selection again and will do whatever I'm called upon to do."