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Cahalane opens door for future return to hurling

CORK'S Damien Cahalane has left the door open for a return to the county's senior hurling team.

The talented dual star opted to throw his lot in with Conor Counihan's football squad this year despite making his championship debut for the hurlers last summer.

"The U-21 campaign was the main reason I chose football this year," said Cahalane, who will also be making himself available for the county's U-21 hurling squad.

"You miss out on a lot of the National Hurling League if you are playing football with the U-21s at the start of the year.

"I went with football this year and I'm really enjoying it. You kind of get the best out of yourself when you are able to concentrate on just one.

"But I loved my time last year with the hurlers. I learned so much and who is to say I won't go back hurling with them in the future?"

The Castlehaven man (right), son of former Cork star Niall, will lead the Rebels in Saturday's Cadbury All-Ireland U-21 football final against Galway in Limerick.

Meanwhile, Cian Ward has been dropped from the Meath panel for the forthcoming championship campaign.

Shane McAnarney, last year's vice- captain, and Jamie Queeney, who picked off some important scores against Kildare in last summer's Leinster final, have also been deemed surplus to requirements for now by manager Mick O'Dowd.

Ward can be a prolific scorer and only two years ago he fired home four goals in a qualifier against Louth at Kingspan Breffni Park.

He made his championship debut against Dublin in the 2007 Leinster quarter-final, when he came off the bench to score five points, including one from an audacious sideline kick, as Meath forced a replay.

The emergence of Mickey Newman in the full-forward line has seen him drop down the pecking order this year.

O'Dowd has not been slow to stamp his own imprint on the team he inherited from Seamus McEnaney. Only five of the players who started the fourth-round qualifier against Laois last year made the first 15 last Saturday's match, although some of the changes have been forced on him.

Irish Independent

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