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Keaney return played down as Dubs prepare for Galway

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Joe Canning: May feature on Sunday

Joe Canning: May feature on Sunday

Joe Canning: May feature on Sunday

DUBLIN hurlers will come into Sunday's big relegation battle with Galway re-energised after a four-day training camp in Portugal.

Their warm-weather training stint had been arranged for some time -- Anthony Daly's side flew out last Thursday and returned yesterday.

The intensity of their workout can be gauged by the fact that they had a training session there yesterday morning, before getting on the plan to fly home.

Of the three Dublin players hit with cruciate injuries in the past year, Stephen Hiney and Conal Keaney are both reportedly ahead of schedule in their recoveries and are training well.

But insiders played down a rumour yesterday that Keaney is set to make what would be a sensational but premature return against Galway on Sunday.

He tore his cruciate in an unfortunate motor bike accident last summer on the eve of Dublin's championship clash with Limerick.

But this year's championship opener on June 2 still looks the likeliest date of his inter-county return. It is expected that Keaney will first test his fitness in a club game early next month before risking it in the heat of inter-county action -- especially one as competitive as the weekend's big relegation tussle in Tullamore.

Yet another marquee name, Galway's Joe Canning, could yet feature in that game in what would be his first inter-county appearance of the year.

Canning has been out since February after rupturing the AC joint in his shoulder while playing for Limerick IT, an injury that proved a huge loss to both his college and county.

He returned to county training a few weeks ago and his progress has been closely monitored, but it remains to be seen if the Tribesmen spring him for Sunday's shoot-out.

"We will probably wait until Thursday night and see how he is then," said Galway coach Tom Helebert, who said Cooney's shoulder "is still sore".

"Obviously, we don't want to rush him, we want to make sure it is fine but, of course, it would also be a big boost to have Joe available."

After making history by winning Division 1 in 2011, when they also beat Galway in the Leinster championship, Dublin now find themselves in a relegation tussle with Anthony Cunningham's new-look side, who beat them 0-20 to 0-13 in the opening round of this year's Allianz League.

Irish Independent