O'Dwyer back with Dublin after nightclub attack ordeal
Ryan O'Dwyer returned to full contact training with the Dublin hurlers on Tuesday night - with manager Ger Cunningham reporting that he is "back being Ryan O'Dwyer".
The combative forward hasn't featured for the county this year after a serious assault outside a Birmingham nightclub last October that left him with a broken jaw, fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.
The Tipperary native is now happily recovered and having featured as a sub for Kilmacud Crokes over the weekend, he is part of Cunningham's plans once more as the championship comes into view.
"Ryan has got the all-clear and he's been back doing some non-contact hurling for the last two or three weeks," Cunningham explained.
"And he got the all-clear to go back fully - so he did his first session (on Tuesday) with us, his first full-contact session.
"I think he played ten minutes for Crokes in a league match last Saturday, but he was back in fully, and back being Ryan O'Dwyer! He gives us that physical presence that we need - it was great to see him back. He was in flying form."
The injuries were serious but could have been much worse. Others who suffered similar injuries subsequently struggled with speech and motor skills.
"Obviously something like that, the serious injury that he got, I think he took a bit of time out to assess how serious it was. But I think what came through to us was Ryan's passion, his real passion for hurling, and he really wanted to get back.
"He had to be patient, because the medical people were telling him he had to take a bit of time and it would be towards April/May before he would be back," Cunningham explained.
"But it's a great boost to us now that he's back in now, and he'll be playing club championship next week."
Cunningham has a five-week run-in to their championship opener against Wexford but that preparation will be hindered by a two rounds of the Dublin SHC that are scheduled to take place.
Those games, coupled with their match with the Slaneysiders being brought forward a week to accommodate the Bruce Springsteen concert in Croke Park, means Cunningham's preparations will be squeezed into a condensed window.
"Sometimes you can't control things. We focused on June 29, everything was set for the three-week (run-in).
"It was very frustrating when the date was changed because now it affects your time-frame but I suppose we did know a couple of months ago the change was made so we were able to react to it. It would have been ideal and nice to have the three weeks."
Cian Boland is still in contention to be fit for the Wexford game while Niall Corcoran (wrist) and Paul Schutte (shoulder) are back in training. However, Peter Kelly will miss the game as he continues to struggle with a knee injury.
Cunningham also paid tribute to the recently-retired Conal Keaney who hung up his hurl last week.
"He was a phenomenal player. We played him last year at wing-back in a couple of matches, and he was that good that he was able to adapt and able to go from being an excellent forward to being a very good defender as well," he said.
"An excellent hurler, really. He had everything - great skill, great touch, great hand, great strength.
"At the height of his career he had the (motorbike) accident - that's when he was at his best, the time he had the motorbike accident. But he was a great hurler to watch."