ACL injury axed dual Dub's last shot at grade
CIARÁN KILKENNY had confirmed that he would play U21 hurling with Dublin this year just six days prior to his ACL rupture.
It means that none of the dual players currently on the senior football panel who are eligible to hurl U21 will play for Joe Fortune's team.
Kilkenny was, according to Fortune, eager to hurl in his final year at the grade, having lost an All-Ireland minor final in 2011 and given his involvement in last year's U21 team that lost to Carlow in Parnell Park.
"He was committed to giving it a good lash," Fortune explained. "I think the fact that it was his last year at under-21 meant he was eager to play it.
"He would have good relationships with a lot of the lads that are there. They have a lot of unfinished business, having lost two All-Ireland minor finals."
He had, however, confirmed to selector Eimear Dignam last Monday week that he would commit to the U21 hurlers and the management had established a training plan, whereby Kilkenny would hurl with coach Dwayne Walsh, separate from team training.
"We told him we'd still like him involved," Fortune insisted.
"There's very few guys of his age that have All-Ireland medals. It's not the end for him. He's a young lad. He's disciplined enough to come back stronger. It's unfortunate for us.
"For a young man as iconic as he is ... an awful lot of young kids would look up to him, as would a lot of adults."
Kilkenny would, however, have proved the exception as Cormac Costello had already indicated that he would not play any county grade hurling in 2014.
Costello and Kilkenny started the two-point loss to Carlow last May, while similarly, neither Eric Lowndes nor Emmet Ó Conghaile will be available to Fortune, after devoting their time exclusively to the U21 and senior football teams.
"For us, it's hard because we're coming in late," Fortune explained. "And the couple of names that you would have known before you got involved were Ciarán and Cormac. He's (Costello) shown his priority realistically is football. We would love to have Cormac involved next year because he has another year at under-21 but Ciarán is different because it's his last year."
At present, Fortune has Seánie McClelland, Paul Winters, Colm Cronin, Cian O'Callaghan, Chris Crummy, Donal Gormley and Eoghan O'Donnell all co-habiting Anthony Daly's senior panel and his own, while Conor McHugh and Ross Mullins are both currently tied up with Dessie Farrell's U21 footballers.
His team take on Laois – Dublin's conquerors in the 2012 Leinster Championship – in Parnell Park on May 28, a team and a county currently experiencing a spike in fortunes.
"At the minute they have seven guys starting on their senior team that they're raving about," Fortune noted. "And they're playing against the Cork seniors and winning against the Offaly seniors and Antrim. We've come across Laois at a bad time in ways. But if we can get a proper shot, if we can get the lads together as often as possible, is there talent good enough to beat Laois? Yes there is.
"But it's about us getting together and ensuring that on the night, what happened to us against Carlow and what happened against Laois doesn't happen again in May."