MAURICE O'BRIEN has "no fears" about Danny Sutcliffe's ability to hit the ground running against Kilkenny this weekend after his recent injury travails.
The All Star wing-forward missed Dublin's Leinster semi-final against Wexford with a broken hand but has now resumed training ahead of Sunday's decider.
"He really looks after himself. You'll never see him off the pace," says O'Brien. "It's really just making sure that the injury was 100pc healed up ... if he's back training, I've no doubt that is the scenario."
The Faughs clubman spied something different about Sutcliffe from the minute he joined Anthony Daly's set-up in 2011. "He upped the standards straight away. He set the tempo in training matches, and if you were marking him or near him, you really had to up your game or you would be shown up pretty badly. For a young player, it was incredible really," he enthuses.
"Getting back onto the team in 2012, I kind of did it by marking Danny in training for a couple of training matches in a row. If you're holding Danny, that's seen as showing serious form."
Speaking of serious form, O'Brien saluted Conal Keaney's semi-final display in Wexford Park as among his finest hours since rejoining the Sky Blue hurling fold in 2011. It wasn't just the points scored or puckouts won, but his "phenomenal" ability to win turnovers too.
"I'd heard that he wasn't going very well in training, prior to that, so I was going down a little bit worried," he admits. "You had Liam Rushe struggling with injury. You'd Ryan O'Dwyer who was sick going into it. Then you had Conal probably not showing great form, and Danny's out ... a lot of the main guys were in trouble, so we were kind of walking into an ambush.
"But for Conal to stand up and play the way he did was incredible. He got five points from play; really led the line; really took over the mantle of the leader of the team ... up there with one of his best games. Scoring-wise probably his best game, but we wouldn't judge Conal on what he's scoring."