Sunday 19 May 2019

Conal Keaney to return to Dublin fold after shoulder operation

Conal Keaney will be back in Dublin fold
Conal Keaney will be back in Dublin fold

Conor McKeon

CONAL KEANEY is part of Mattie Kenny's plans for 2019, the new Dublin manager has revealed.

Keaney, 36, will undergo surgery next week on the shoulder injury he sustained in Dublin's opening Leinster SHC game against Kilkenny back in mid-May.

"Due to his club commitments, he didn't get a chance to address that shoulder injury properly yet," explained Kenny after Tuesday night's maiden competitive match in charge of Dublin, a victory over Carlow in the opening game of this year's Walsh Cup.

"So he's going for surgery next week, which will take him out for a number of weeks.

"So that's his priority at the moment, to get that shoulder operated on and we'll get him rehab-ed then."

Keaney had been hugely influential in that game, scoring 0-4 from centre-forward before his forced removal in the 60th minute.

It had been his first championship appearance for almost three years, since July 2015, after announcing his inter-county retirement in April 2016 following Ballyboden St Enda's All-Ireland club football success.

At the end of his first and what unexpectedly proved to be his only season in charge of Dublin back in June, Gilroy outlined how Keaney had indicated he was "eager" to return for another year.

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However, Gilroy's shock decision to step down from that role had cast some doubt over those plans.

Speaking prior to Ballyboden St Enda's Leinster club final, Keaney explained that there had been no contact between the new county management and any of the club's players at that stage so they could concentrate on their looming date with Ballyhale Shamrocks.

"What Mattie is doing is leaving us off with the club," he revealed.

"He knows you need to be concentrating on what you are doing. I think he'll make contact with all of the lads that he wants to, probably after the weekend.

"See what the story is going forward after that."

On Tuesday night, Kenny said that he had "spoken to the 'Boden guys just in the last day or two," adding: "we'll be looking at a number of them joining the panel in January 2019."

Seán Treacy made his inter-county comeback on Tuesday night after sitting out the last two seasons while both Mark Schutte and Darragh O'Connell are also understood to be part of Kenny's winter training squad, despite neither being part of the match panel against Carlow.

Kenny explained that another Cuala pair, Paul Schutte and Colm Cronin, are not currently part of the group for contrasting reasons, although he didn't rule out either or both coming into the fold at a later stage.

"Paul Schutte - if you know Paul's history - Paul suffered a very serious hamstring injury last year (in the All-Ireland club final replay) when it came off the bone," Kenny outlined.

"He's out injured for nine to 12 months. Paul will be working over the Christmas to trying to get back playing with the club later in 2019.

"So he's a long-term injury.

"And Colm Cronin is busy doing his doctor's exams. So they're things we've got to look at in the coming year."

Kenny gave game-time to a number of younger players in Tuesday night's victory over Carlow including Lee Gannon, Conor Burke and Diarmuid O'Flynn.

"We have a training panel at the moment," he explained. "All counties have training panels at this point in time with 30 to 40 players.

"There is a requirement that we pick our league panel at the end of January."

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