Sunday 21 January 2018

Schutte eager to make up for lost time in Dublin's competitive regime

Mark Schutte
Mark Schutte
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Dublin's Mark Schutte is playing catch-up.

Ever since he felt an all-too-familiar pain in his shoulder when going for the first ball in Wexford Park last June, he's waited for days like this weekend's league semi-final with Cork and for the summer to roll around.

Schutte's season was wrecked by the injury before it could truly begin. He recovered to play against Tipperary six weeks later but he had hardly hurled to that point as the Premier men romped home and ended Dublin's year.

Since then he has focused on recovery but the winter threw up more than a couple of what-ifs and regrets.

"The first ball I got in the Wexford game in the championship last summer I dislocated my shoulder. "I rehabbed for six weeks, played some part against Tipp, but only trained the week before. I went for surgery a couple of weeks after, and have been back the start of January.

"I was happy with my form, and that's what was so frustrating about it," reflected the Cuala man.

"It was a long winter, thinking about what could have been.

"But that motivated me, and with a new manager too. To try and prove myself again was something that was motivating me to come back and get my rehab done as best as I could and impress the new management."

When his shoulder gave way, Schutte knew what lay ahead. Back in 2011, he suffered a similar injury but back then he looked to be heading for a career in football.

Schutte spent the early part of that year with Pat Gilroy's footballers before dropping off that summer to concentrate on hurling as the U-21s went all the way to an All-Ireland final. They lost that decider and he also missed out on a medal with the footballers but the experience has stayed with him.

"I made the decision myself at the end of 2012 to just go with the hurling," he explains.

"Probably the main thing to do in Dublin is go with the football over the last few years but I suppose my brother being on the (hurling) team obviously was a huge influencing factor on me.

"It's a large part of the reason why I did come and play hurling as well. There are a lot of those football players that I look at now and who I learnt a lot from in 2011 who went on to win the All-Ireland.

"To see what it takes to win an All-Ireland is something I have definitely taken and helped me. I have tried to bring to the hurling team that experience I had on the football panel."

Maybe hurling was always the most likely choice for Schutte. His grandfather was born in Germany before moving here as a child but another side of his family hail from Kilkenny where Brian Hogan and Joey Holden are among his relatives.

He still looks out for their results but it's all about Dublin now. Anthony Daly raised the level of expectation now and Ger Cunningham is looking to bring that on. His influence has been clear with the flurry of new faces introduced and Schutte believes the Dubs are reaping the rewards.

"I suppose if you look at where Dublin hurling was before Anthony Daly took charge to where he left it, is just testament to the man and what he did for Dublin hurling," Schutte said.

"He brought a lot of the current players on to where they are today and I suppose he brought a Leinster title and a National League.

"We fell short of winning the All-Ireland but from where Dublin was before to win those trophies is very successful.

"Now you obviously look at the likes of Chris Crummey and Cian O'Callaghan, it's a new regime, a new face to impress. I suppose everyone in the squad was looking at it like that.

"The older lads have won a lot with Daly so there may have been that sense of loyalty there.

"I suppose a lot of the younger lads just really wanted to break through this year. That's why we've got so competitive now because everyone is pushing for that place.

"Everyone's now confident trying to get a place on the team come championship and that's bringing a brilliant intensity to training."

Irish Independent

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