Saturday 21 September 2019

Schutte's hurling return may open door for others

Dublin star Dean Rock (third from left) was present to help Stewarts Care launch their ‘Night at the Oskars’ which takes place on Thursday in the Citywest Hotel – tickets at €25 are available on the night, with proceeds going to Respite Services. Photo: Maurice Grehan
Dublin star Dean Rock (third from left) was present to help Stewarts Care launch their ‘Night at the Oskars’ which takes place on Thursday in the Citywest Hotel – tickets at €25 are available on the night, with proceeds going to Respite Services. Photo: Maurice Grehan
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Coaxing Mark Schutte back into the Dublin hurling fold after collecting two All-Ireland titles with the footballers is a notable coup for new boss Mattie Kenny and it may sow the seed for others to follow suit.

While Schutte was peripheral on Jim Gavin's squad in 2017 and 2018, his cause was hurt by the remarkable success under Kenny as Cuala won back-to-back All-Ireland club hurling titles, forcing him to miss large chunks of the inter-county season.

The 26-year-old still managed to play championship football both years, however, and his return to play small ball instead of aiming to be part of a set-up going for five All-Irelands in a row sends a statement of intent.

Schutte is in the prime of his playing career and given the playing resources available to the Dubs, with a host of new faces knocking at Gavin's door, game-time is paramount, and he will make the hurlers' best 15 if fit.

Having watched Colm Basquel light it up scoring 3-3 for Ballyboden St Enda's against Coolderry in Sunday's Leinster club SHC semi-final victory, it begs the question of how many more are in a similar boat to Schutte.

Glimpses of Basquel's potential off the bench for Gavin's side suggest a breakthrough is imminent but his hurling talent is obvious and to cause such havoc on his full senior club championship debut is phenomenal.

It couldn't help but remind you of football team-mate Con O'Callaghan.

While O'Callaghan is unlikely to mix both codes, the 2017 Young Footballer of the Year has shown himself to be one of the most dangerous forwards in the country with Cuala and would be a major weapon if Kenny could woo him towards the hurlers.

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Ciarán Kilkenny is another with hurling pedigree having won a Division 1 All-Ireland Féile na nGael hurling title with Castleknock in 2007 and represented Dublin at minor level, as did defender Jonny Cooper who won an All-Ireland Colleges title with Dublin Colleges in 2006.

Diarmuid Connolly's football future is unclear but he was also part of that second-level win before adding a Leinster U-21 title a year later, while Tomás Brady, Rory O'Carroll and Emmet Ó Conghaile are others that were lost to the big ball.

Cormac Costello, Eric Lowndes and Conor McHugh may give a second thought about following in Schutte's footsteps, however, having been part of the Dublin side which fell to Tipperary after a replayed All-Ireland minor hurling final six years ago.

Costello said: "I'll never rule it out" when asked about a hurling return last month and while the trio's time has not yet passed to give inter-county hurling a whirl, it will soon.

Irish Independent

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