Anthony Daly has acknowledged that the shock of Conal Keaney’s accident on Friday may have contributed to what he felt was a “heavy legged” second-half performance against Limerick on Sunday.
As Dublin basked in the glory of a first All-Ireland semi-final appearance in 63 years, Daly reflected on a difficult few days for the squad as they came to terms with the loss of Keaney in such circumstances so close to the game.
Describing a Friday night squad meeting as “emotional” and set in “silence” as the news was digested, he figured that the impact of everything that had gone on may only have hit home in the second half against Limerick.
“Fellas that normally wouldn’t get tired were tiring. You could see it in the legs,” reflected Daly. “Maybe it was the news surrounding Conal on Friday and everything that went with it that had a draining effect on the players. It was a difficult few days all round.”
As a consequence, Dublin won’t train until later in the week, and Daly hopes that the time off will help to freshen up after an exhausting match.
“We’ll train Thursday morning again and take it from there. We decided to leave them off because their legs did look heavy at times in the second half,” he said.
“We have decided to try and freshen it up between now and the semi-final.”
Daly admitted that a video clip from Keaney posted on the Dublin’s hurling team’s private Facebook page on Saturday night detailing a personal message from his hospital bed in Santry Clinic had an uplifting effect on the entire squad.
“It wasn’t something we asked for. Conal did it on his own initiative. It wasn’t played to a team meeting or anything. We didn’t send a tripod and a camera up to the ward. He initiated it himself, knowing that at some stage the boys would be visiting the page.”
Keaney has been diagnosed with a torn cruciate ligament after jumping off his motorbike to avoid a more serious impact in an accident with a van on his way to work on Friday morning.
Following surgery, it will be at least nine months before he resumes competitive hurling again.
He is the third Dublin player to have his season ended by a cruciate ligament injury, following on from Stephen Hiney in he league against Wexford and Tomas Brady in the championship against Galway.
Daly agrees that Dublin can now reflect on their season with satisfaction but admits the failure to do themselves justice in the Leinster final against Kilkenny has ensured that they won’t be resting on their laurels just yet.
For him the disappointment of the defeat to Kilkenny by 11 points earlier in the month remains the only blot on what has otherwise been a near-perfect season for his team.
“We’ll have that in mind when we play Tipperary,” he admitted. “We have achieved a lot of what we set out to do. It’s gone well.
“But in the back of our minds is the performance against Kilkenny. We didn’t do ourselves justice and we want to be able to look each other in the eye at the end of the season and say ‘yes we did everything we could’.
“Maybe Kilkenny didn’t let us play but I felt afterwards there was more in us that day and we didn’t get it out.”
Daly acknowledges that the hill will get considerably steeper in the coming weeks as Dublin prepare for the All-Ireland champions.
“There isn’t a bookie or a pundit that is going to give us a chance the next day and we accept that,” he said.
“When you see what Tipperary did to Waterford and what Waterford did then to Galway, it’s an indication of the level they’re at.”
– Colm Keys – Irish Independent