Dublin veteran Conal Keaney talks business ahead of the Leinster Championship
Fans of Dublin hurling are still getting over the retirement of long time servant Peter Kelly from inter county action. The Lucan Sarsfields man made the choice to step away so he could extend his club days.
Kelly was one of many names to return to the Dublin set up at the beginning of the year as Pat Gilroy made plans to return the Dubs to winning ways. We saw the return of Danny Sutcliffe, Joey Boland, Johnny McCaffrey, Alan Nolan, Shane Durkin, Paul Ryan, Daire Plunkett, even Dublin legend Conal Keaney, who came out of retirement to give it one last crack.
Speaking to RTE Sport this week the Ballyboden St. Endas stalwart paid a massive tribute to Peter Kelly after he made announced he would step away.
“Peter was probably the best full-back I’ve ever played with, and probably one of the best full-backs that has ever played, I think, because he seemed to have every single skill you could ask for.”
And he’s not alone in his sentiment. Dublin captain Chris Crummey and new Dublin selector Anthony Cunningham both professed their admiration of Kelly at the launch of this year’s Leinster Championship.
What seems to stick with most people, including Keaney, is that Kelly was so close to making it, but all are agreed that he at least gave it a crack.
“He’s happy that he made the right decision to come out and try it, instead of sitting at home and watching us later in the summer and thinking, ‘Maybe I could have done something’.
“It looked for a while in training that he was getting back to his old self but I think his body just let him down in the end, and he just couldn’t do the training and couldn’t get himself right to play enough games consistently.
But the show goes on and from a personal perspective, Keaney is quite adamant that his own return was not to make up the numbers. The club dual star still believes that he has something to offer and is prepared as ever to put the work in.
“It is tough at times,” he said. “I think it’s just how you manage your time.”
“I didn’t come back not to win, so we’re going to (aim to) win the Leinster and we’re going to (aim to) win an All-Ireland, that’s the bottom line.”
Kilkenny pose the first teaser for Dublin in this year’s all new Leinster Championship. All teams play four games, with the first and second placed sides in the round robin playing out the final.
Coal Keaney believes that Dublin will be a force to be reckoned with despite their mixed fortunes in the recent League campaign.
“If you were picking the draw, you’d want to have Kilkenny in your first game and you’d want them at home.”
“I think the league was used for different tactics, and for trying to play different formations and stuff like that.”
What Pat Gilroy will be looking for next month is a consistent level of performance. We saw glimpses against Galway in Parnell Park, and of course the opening phases against Tipperary in the Quarter Final in Croke Park.
“I think we just went out and attacked Tipperary and worked really hard, and that worked, with a few other tactics we had as well.”
“We seem to work hard and then just stop and say, ‘That’s enough’. Then, all of a sudden, we could be six or seven points down and it’s very hard to get that back. It’s just trying to have that consistency all the time.”
Dublin face Kilkenny in the opening round of this year’s Leinster Championship on May 13th in Parnell Park at 2:00pm. The game is preceded by a Leinster Minor Hurling Championship game, also between Dublin and Kilkenny. For full details and ticket information for these games just click here.