Tomas Brady. Picture: Sportsfile
ANOTHER good weekend for Dublin hurling on all fronts.
Anthony Daly’s numerically-challenged men scavenging an unlikely draw against Galway in Tullamore means their spring gets a six-day augmentation and a second cut at retaining their top-flight status.
And, vitally, the injury story which has become such a nuisance backdrop for Dublin over the past year reached another clearing when Tomás Brady came through 60 minutes for Na Fianna against Faughs on Saturday in Mobhi Road.
“It was good to get the full game under my belt but I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m back at 100 per cent,” says Brady cautiously. “There was a small bit of soreness on Sunday but that’s expected. Yesterday it felt very good so I might train tonight. But, yeah, it was a relief to get through it.”
The competitive return of Dublin’s defensive colossus came almost 10 months to the day after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament back in Tullamore against Galway in pursuit of Joe Canning, but anyone hoping to see a miraculous return to intercounty action next week will be disappointed.
Brady won’t wear the blue until Dublin’s Leinster SHC opener with Carlow or Laois on June 2 at the very earliest.
“You’re looking at six weeks away so it’s definitely the one to aim for,” he insists. “If I can get six weeks of good work done, I can definitely aim for that.
“Hopefully, I’ll get championship time with Na Fianna. It’s just about getting the work done between now and then. The rest of my body is in good shape. It’s all about getting your confidence back, committing yourself to tackles, getting it out of your mind that you’ve had this injury.”
Brady, Conal Keaney and Stephen Hiney all played shortened matches in Dublin’s recent training trip to Portugal, leaving Anthony Daly smelling something he must at one stage have suspected was an impossibility: a clean bill of health.
“It would have been a boost for everyone,” Brady notes. “It was the same with Peter Kelly, having him back is fantastic. The injuries seem to be coming right.
“The three of us are probably at the same level now. We’re glad to be back on the pitch hurling and glad to be back with the squad at the right time of the year. The games are getting more and more competitive.”
Brady travelled to O’Connor Park on Sunday and reckons the manner of the final outcome “will bring the squad on unbelievably”.
He was surprised to see Canning take his place in the starting line-up but doesn’t believe the Portumna man’s shock presence unsettled Dublin in any significant way.
“To be honest, no attention was focused on him and whether he played or not or even on Galway,” Brady maintains.
“We’re just get ting ourselves right. There’s no point in getting distracted on what they’re doing.
“Personally, I was surprised. But teams do these things to get the advantage on the day. I think we handled him well for large parts of the game. Obviously, he came into it in the second half but he’s a class player. He’s always going to perform at some stage.”
Still, the spectre of relegation hangs in the air over Dublin even if the consequences of such an outcome aren’t discussed.
Brady says: “We haven’t really talked about it. We haven’t thought about it. We just try and go out and perform and win the game. If you do lose, you don’t have to think about it until next year.
“The lads won’t be focused on what happens if we lose. We just try and perform and see where it takes us. And the performances have been good for the most part
“The team that started extra-time, there were a lot of new faces there and they were the lads who pulled us through and got the result.
“To some, it probably looked dead and buried. But there is a belief now in the team that we can come back from anything.
“It’s great to see Niall McMorrow put over that last ’65. That was some pressure and he’s new enough to the panel so it’s great to see him get those couple of scores.
He added: “The squad we have is phenomenal. It just goes to show the squad we’ve built.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re missing, fellas can come in a do and a job. Everyone that has come in has stood up and been counted.
“Hopefully next Saturday we can improve and get the win.”
– Conor McKeon – Evening Herald