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'Don’t rush Boden stars'

THE sight of both Conal Keaney and Stephen Hiney wading through a full hour of championship hurling last night in Parnell Park would have been enough to warm the hearts of any and all Dublin supporters in attendance, even if they went down under an unseasonal rain storm and a vintage Lucan Sarsfields performance.

The pair remain on course in their quest to recover from cruciate and lateral ligament disaster but nonetheless, Dublin captain Johnny McCaffrey has warned that there is still significant ground to cover.

“They have a long way to go,” McCaffrey told the Herald. “It's a big step up from doing all your recovery and doing things right to actually going to play a full championship match.

“We're all praying that they can but the lads who have played during the league have done extremely well so the lads |coming back know they have to fight for their place like everyone else.”

Last night was Keaney's first full competitive match since rupturing both his cruciate and lateral ligaments last |July while Hiney came through just his third since March 2011.

Both, however, were competitive throughout and look set to make their Dublin comebacks in a challenge match against Waterford this Monday alongside fellow cruciate victim Tomás Brady and could make some contribution when Daly's men begin their Leinster SHC campaign against Laois or Carlow on June 2.

“What the lads need now is patience,” said McCaffrey. “They need loads of games. Their knees are fine. It's just about getting as much game-time as possible because they lost so much time. They've worked really hard to make it back to where they are. If they make a return to championship, it would be a massive boost. Absolutely massive.

“Not just on the field but off the field as well. Training and in around the dressing room – they're three massive characters and everyone respects what they say and what they do. It's been brilliant to have them back around the place and what they bring on the pitch is top class.

“Great quality and great leadership. Any team would cry out to have them.”

Dublin have, however, picked up recently. Paul Schutte looks like missing the next eight weeks with a knee injury while Danny Sutcliffe (hand) and Alan McCrabbe (shoulder) remain doubts for June 2.

“They only thing about those lads is at least they're not cruciate injuries,” |McCaffrey pointed out. “It happens in sport, there is contact and when you're playing for your club in the championship, everyone is going to put their bodies on the line. The main thing now is that we have a squad that can withstand those types of blows.”

DUBLIN’S minor hurlers face Carlow in Dr Cullen Park this Saturday (3.0) in Leinster MHC action following a meeting of the Leinster Council CCC last night. The fixtures originally had the venue down as Parnell Park but there was confusion with regard to the qualifier format and following last night’s meeting the Dubs ceded home advantage to Carlow.