Daly targets June return for Dublin stars
DUBLIN hurling manager Anthony Daly is targeting an end-of-June return for two of their cruciate ligament injury victims.
Daly hopes that Conal Keaney (pictured right) and Tomas Brady will be ready for a potential Leinster semi-final against Kilkenny in Portlaoise on June 23, provided they don't slip up in the preceding fixture against Laois or Carlow on June 2.
However, Stephen Hiney, who damaged his cruciate before either Keaney and Brady, is being earmarked for a later return because of complications.
Despite their success in winning the league, reaching another Leinster final and progressing to an All-Ireland semi-final no other team operating at that level was as badly affected by long-term injury as Dublin.
Hiney damaged his cruciate in a league match against Wexford in March, Brady suffered the same injury against Galway in the Leinster semi-final while Keaney was involved in a road traffic accident in July, two days before the All-Ireland quarter-final against Limerick when he was riding his motorbike to work.
He, too, is recovering from cruciate damage.
On top of that, David Treacy is still out of action with the hamstring tear that badly affected his season, while Shane Stapleton, who missed all of last season with a cruciate ligament injury sustained in August 2010, is on the verge of make a comeback.
"We'd be very happy with their recovery at this point. Conal and Tomas are ahead of schedule, but their injuries were straightforward," said Daly, refreshed after a short break with the league champions in Las Vegas.
"Stephen had damage to other ligaments. He may be out longer. Our target for Conal and Tomas would be the end of June.
"If we are in a Leinster semi-final then that would be what we'd be aiming for with them," confirmed Daly.
"They were with us in Las Vegas and they have been really pushing them- selves in recent weeks.
"To be honest, if you were to have three fellas laid up with this type of injury that requires such discipline, you couldn't have better.
"The latest bulletin that I have received from our physio is that great progress is being made."
There are doubts, however, over Dublin's longest-serving player, Liam Ryan, who is not likely to continue in 2012.
Daly said any decision will be down to the player, who performed so well when he started his only championship match in 2011, the All-Ireland semi final against Tipperary, when he took the injured Keaney's part.
The Dubs boss has overseen a couple of development challenge games in recent weeks that involved members of the U-21 and minor teams that lost All-Ireland finals to Galway in consecutive weeks in September.
Minor captain Chris Crummy and minor dual player Emmet O Conghaile were among those who have featured.