With less than two weeks to the National Hurling League, Dublin boss Mattie Kenny is happy with progress

Hurling League - Mattie Kenny

Nowlan Park will be the venue for Dublin’s first Hurling League game of 2020 and the daunting task of facing Kilkenny. But after last year’s Division 1B campaign there’s no doubt the team are capable of some more big performances. Only dropping points to Galway in the rounds last year, Dublin put up some impressive displays against Carlow, Offaly, Waterford and Laois. And they held their own in the Semi Final against Limerick, only losing by three scores.

They’ll have Laois and Carlow to contend with again this year, but will have sterner tasks against Clare, Wexford and Kilkenny with the change in format.

But three wins from four in the Walsh Cup without a fully strong panel will be reassuring for Mattie Kenny as he begins his second League campaign. The boss used 35 players during the Leinster Pre-Season competition and saw a few big names back, like Sean Moran and Danny Sutcliffe. even if it was only for a short spell. An until the Fitzgibbon Cup comes to a close, he’ll need to keep his options open.

“I know the county board will be on to us in the coming days to cut it back to the League panel, but we’ll try and hold on to them for as long as possible.” he told the Herald this week.

“For training purposes, to keep the training worthwhile and competitive, we’ll hold on to the guys for another couple of weeks.

Eight regulars still to return to action

Eoghan O’Donnell, Liam Rushe, Conal Keaney, Shane Barrett, David and Seán Treacy, Darragh O’Connell and Cian Hendricken, all Dublin regulars last year have still to return. Cian O’Callaghan, Mark Schutte and Rian McBride all made successful returns from injury. And of course Cork’s Marc Howard and Down’s Lorcan McMullan both impressed in the games so far.

“It’s about trying to keep everyone healthy and work through this period” he admitted.

“But in a way, the last few weeks have gone reasonably well for us.”

Sean Moran, Dublin’s strongest defender last season, literally only landed back in Dublin after a long haul flight from Australia on Saturday night. And he put recovering from jet lag on the long finger to turn up for Kenny the following day. Danny Sutcliffe’s appearance means he’s recovering well from a hamstring injury. All good signs for the manager with little time on his hands.

“Hopefully we’ll be nice and healthy and fresh going down to Kilkenny in two weeks time.”

“The guys know the set up and we know the players. That doesn’t guarantee anything.”

“But we’re reasonably happy where we’re at today.”

“It’s over the next few weeks that we get all the lads together and get them training together and we’re looking forward to the start of the League in two weeks time.”