Wednesday 23 May 2018

A number of Cuala stars unavailable for Dublin as four All-Ireland club winners return to Gilroy's squad

24 March 2018; Cuala players celebrate after the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final replay match between Cuala and Na Piarsaigh at O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
24 March 2018; Cuala players celebrate after the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final replay match between Cuala and Na Piarsaigh at O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Mark Schutte's expected return to the Dublin hurling squad hasn't materialised as the back-to-back All-Ireland club hurling winner has committed to the footballers for another year while Colm Cronin is going to Africa as part of his medical studies, coach Anthony Cunningham confirmed at yesterday's Leinster hurling championship launch at McKee Army Barracks in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

With Con O'Callaghan also with the footballers and a combination of injuries and a desire to rest ruling out Oisín Gough, Paul Schutte and Darragh O'Connell, the All-Ireland champions will provide just four players to the county team for the forthcoming round robin championship which Dublin begin by hosting Kilkenny in Parnell Park on May 13.

Cunningham says manager Pat Gilroy has been dealing with the players and understands their situations but Cunningham himself said he hopes that in future years the club championship will finish in the same year that it started.

"We'd have seen in other counties that when you get a very, very strong club team, and it happened Portumna for years in Galway and Galway maybe have suffered, guys were tired when they went for a couple of All-Irelands.

"Even in Kilkenny with Ballyhale and others, they would be tired coming back off it, because you have to train very hard for the winter.

"For the Limerick champions, who were beaten after two All-Ireland finals, to have to go out again the Sunday after it? It was easier probably for Cuala because they had won, but for Na Piarsaigh it's extremely hard. So it happens in all quarters. If they can finish them in the one calendar year that would help clubs and counties and they'll get a break," said the former Galway manager.

"We probably would have hoped - everybody in the country would hope to have more players, the likes of Con (O'Callaghan) and others.

"Con is obviously trying to establish himself on the Dublin football team as well, so I can see his concern is to nail that down.

"But hopefully, in a year's time or two years' time or three years' time, you'd never say no, particularly with a guy as level-headed as Con because he should be able to carry both.

"He did it this year in between the club semi-final and final. He played with UCD (Sigerson Cup semi-final and final) and was instrumental in that. You saw him in the last few minutes against Galway in the football league final, popped on there. His physique and his natural ability is going to get him through that. Some players mightn't be able to do it because they just might break down.

"But the physicality, athleticism that he has is very evident to see. So you'd be hoping he's able to mix them."

O'Connell's decision not to commit comes on the back of a very productive club campaign. "He said that he wanted a break really. He'd done a lot for the last two years and had done a couple of years with Dublin as well. He's a really talented hurler, a great athlete and we would love to have had him. Colm Cronin would have loved to come in but he had a commitment to go to Africa - he's doing medical studies and he had put that off last year. He had to do it this year," said Cunningham,

Cian O'Callaghan, David Treacy, Seán Moran and Jake Malone are the four players to sign up to a summer campaign with Dublin.

"That's what we have secured from Cuala. They've been tremendous champions, so for us we're grateful."

Liam Rushe has also recovered from a long-term injury, Cunningham confirmed, while he says Dublin have benefited from having the experience of Danny Sutcliffe and Conal Keaney again.

"Conal brings great leadership up front, and he's an example to any player who says, 'Oh, I've enough of this, I'm getting out early or I'm getting out at 28 or 29,' with the condition he's in and his fitness."

Irish Independent

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