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Cautious Conal counting his blessings

CONAL Keaney has yet to be told when his recuperation from a cruciate injury will be complete but he says he simply counts himself lucky to be alive.

A road accident last August involving a truck, which saw the motorbike on which he was travelling written off, left him with torn cruciate and lateral ligaments and, despite committing to six to seven days a week rehab, specialists are reluctant to identify a date upon which he will be able to play again.

"A lad was knocked off his bike that weekend and he happened to lose his life," Keaney said.

"I'm just grateful to get back to where I am at the moment and if I see some action again it'll be great.

"When I was lying in the hospital that time I didn't think I'd ever get to put on a Dublin jersey again, so hopefully I'm getting a little bit nearer to it."

One of three Dublin players currently sidelined (Tomás Brady and Stephen Hiney are the others), Keaney is wary of the 'curse of the second cruciate', a fate which has hit footballers Paul Griffin, Dermot Earley, David Bray and Mark Davoren in recent times.

"Previously lads came back too early and done it again," he noted.

"I'm just being very cautious and making sure I do everything right so that when I do come back I'm back 100 per cent.

"It's very hard when I have no goal at the end of it or date to come back. I'm just working away. It's nearly the end of January now and I didn't think I would even get here.

"But I will start back jogging soon - which is the next step on the road to recovery. I have the beautiful scenery and facilites in my work place, Avon Rí (Blessington Lakes), which I will utilise for some of my jogging purposes."

Keaney, Hiney and Brady are just three of a cast of too many Dublin hurlers currently sidelined.

Alan McCrabbe's hip continues to cause him trouble and manager Anthony Daly revealed that the Craobh Chiaráin man is currently confined to cycling.

Ross O'Carroll (broken finger), Paul Schutte (torn hamstring), Liam Rushe (broken hand) and Simon Lambert (twisted ankle) are all hors de combat at present while Daly stressed that he would not "overburden" David Treacy as he recovers from chronic hamstring trouble.

Dublin still have almost five weeks before their Allianz League opener away to Galway but with a reduced number of teams in the redrawn Division 1A, Daly is conscious of the need to make an immediate impact.

"There is a longer run-in and every game is absolutely vital and you have to be ready for the first one and have as many bodies available as you can.

"The last couple of years we had seven matches and you had to be fairly on the ball, but this is making it even more intense.

"You'd be hoping to win one of the first two, get a good start and you're nearly mid-table. You'd be anxious to get off to a good start if you could."