Saturday 7 December 2019

Dublin boss Kenny is baffled by December schedule

Mattie Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile
Mattie Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile

Dublin hurling boss Mattie Kenny has major concerns over the scheduling of the Walsh Cup.

The Dubs' competitive campaign for 2020 commences on Sunday, December 8 with first-round action in Leinster's pre-season tournament at Parnell Park.

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Kenny is expected to use the Walsh Cup to trial many of the young players who are currently part of his extended panel, but he fails to see the value in starting the competition before the New Year.

"December should be the time of year when players are doing strength and conditioning work, when they're rehabbing injuries or knocks that they picked up during the year," Kenny told the Irish Independent.

"This is pre-season. It's not the time of year to be playing hurling matches."

This is the second year in a row that the Leinster pre-season competitions have started before Christmas and the second in which Dublin have been scheduled for Walsh Cup round-robin matches in December.

Last year, Wexford, Kilkenny and Galway received byes to the semi-final as a result of finishing in the top three of the Leinster SHC.

This year, however, Dublin finished third in Leinster and qualified for the All-Ireland SHC knock-out stages but were still grouped in the Walsh Cup round-robin.

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They are down to play Laois and Westmeath on the first two Sundays in December before their last group match against Carlow on January 5.

"Players need to use this time to get themselves fit for 2020," Kenny explained. "The games comes thick and fast once the league starts so they need this time beforehand to prepare properly."

Were Dublin to make the Walsh Cup final, they would play eight games in eight weeks between January 5 and March 1, the date of their final Division 1B league game against Clare in Ennis.

Their schedule will be made more hectic by the involvement of a sizeable portion of Kenny's squad in the Fitzgibbon Cup and other third-level competitions.

This year, Kenny had 24 players from his winter panel in college action during January and February.

Donal Burke, meanwhile, has returned to the squad having spent last summer in America while Kenny has also shuffled his backroom team since the end of the season with the addition of fellow Galway native Gavin Keary.

Keary, from Athenry, was part of the Clare management for the past two seasons.

He played a role in steering Galway to the All-Ireland minor title in 2017 and worked alongside Jeffrey Lynskey in Galway's 2015 success.

As a player Keary featured for Galway in All-Ireland minor and U-21 hurling finals and lined out for Loughrea in their 2007 All-Ireland club final loss to Ballyhale Shamrocks.

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