The Irish Times – Friday, January 7, 2011
Keaney commits to hurlers
DUBLIN MANAGER Anthony Daly has expressed his delight at Conal Keaney’s decision to return to the county’s senior hurling squad after a six-year absence.
Despite intense speculation last year he would return to the small ball code, Keaney remained with the footballers but was unable to claim a regular team place en route to the All-Ireland semi-final.
Keaney met recently with Dublin football manager Pat Gilroy and his hurling counterpart Daly and the Ballyboden St Enda’s clubman was a notable absentee from the footballers’ first training session of the year on Tuesday morning at 6.30am.
Daly spoke to Keaney that evening and the dual player confirmed he wished to throw in his lot with the hurlers for the 2011 campaign. Keaney last donned the sky blue as a hurler in 2004.
Keaney made over 30 senior championship appearances for the Dublin footballers and playing in attack, he helped the Metropolitans to five successive Leinster SFC successes from 2005-09.
The highlight of Keaney’s previous stint with the senior hurlers came in 2003, when he received an All Star nomination and in the same year, he also played on the Dublin team that shocked Kilkenny in the Walsh Cup.
Keaney will be a massive addition to Daly’s hurling squad as they look to build on the encouraging championship displays of recent seasons.
This and the recent addition of former Tipperary senior Ryan O’Dwyer will add much-needed competition for places in the attacking sextet, along with ballwinning ability and genuine class.
Daly confirmed: “He’s back. I was waiting for the call and Conal told me he would let me know by the end of the week. He made up his mind and he’s giving it a shot with us.
“He spoke to Pat Gilroy and I spoke to him on Wednesday night. I met Conal around November but I didn’t bother him since. I stated our case and now we’re lucky enough to have him.
“We would have been happy had Conal decided to combine both codes because half a loaf is better than no bread but he’s anxious to give one of them a proper shot and you can understand that.
“I’m glad that he has opted for us. I saw him against O’Loughlin Gaels in the Leinster club championship and also in the county semi-final and final. He was very impressive and it’s lucky he’s with Boden for the last four winning Dublin championships.
“He’s been a central part of that and that’s given him a good bit of hurling every late summer.”
Daly did concede that having not played with the Dublin hurlers since 2004, it is going to be a test for the player to reach the required level, but noted: “We’ll get him as many games as possible, in the Walsh Cup and National League. He’ll get a fair shot like the 31 other fit lads we have.
“We have two cruciate injuries (David Treacy and Shane Stapleton), while Barry O’Rourke is on club duty with the Kilmacud Crokes footballers. With injuries and everything else, it’s going to be a dog fight.
It’s a 26-man championship panel this year with 15 starters and the pressure’s on everyone now. Any forward should be looking forward to that and the lads will fight like dogs for positions.”