Conal Keaney’s return to inter-county hurling is a huge boost to Anthony Daly’s men, says his former inter-county football team-mate Shane Ryan, as their 2011 season begins to pick up pace.
Ryan and Keaney were part of the Dublin attack that helped see off the challenge of Antrim last Sunday and this Saturday they face Galway in Parnell Park (5.30; Dublin v Meath in O’Byrne Shield final, 7.30).
“It’s a huge boost. No matter what team he’s on he would be a massive addition. Even his presence there in training and his strength and power on the pitch, it’s a huge boost to Dublin.
The Nh Mearnóg man also says the inclusion of former Tipperary senior, Ryan O’Dwyer, will strengthen the options in the squad.
“Along with those two lads (Keaney and O’Dwyer) and the new bunch of under-21s, there’s huge competition for places in the squad, where is the way you want it. It’s a great headache for the management to have, wondering what team your’e going to put out fo rhte next match or the league going forward.
“It’s good to get off to a winning start. It’s the Walsh Cup. We’re not going to lose our heads over it. But it’s good to get into a winning habit.”
Ryan, who scored three points from play against the Glensmen, drew encouragement from his personal display but is under no illusion as to the size of the task he faces.
“It did take longer than I thought. I’m not saying I’m there yet. I’ve a long way to go still. But I was surprised at how much the game has progressed in the last eight or nine years since I played.
“The speed of the game. Look at the two top teams there: Tipp and Kilkenny. The pace they play the game at is unreal compared to the next layer of teams. So if that’s what you’re looking to achieve, we’ve a long way to get yet. I think with hard work, it’s possible.
“It’s a change from what was going on last year but, yeah, I’m much more happier with that.
“I’ve been working on it now for over a year so it was bound to happen sometime. But I’m not goint to lose my head over this. It’s stil January hurling and there’s a long way to go yet.