Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Keaney aiming to reignite the Dubs drive for some success

Some time ago, Conal Keaney made peace with his decision.

As he watched his former team-mates finally land Sam Maguire, he wished them nothing but good, getting in touch with them all to offer his congratulations.

"I wouldn't be jealous or anything like that," he begins.

"There were a lot of lads there a long time trying to win it, they just happened to do it the year I just went to the hurling, but I'm delighted to still be playing hurling at the top level. It's what you want to do as a player."

It's not as if he was starved of success either. He landed the 2011 National League with that glorious final win over Kilkenny.

But it was the week leading up to the All-Ireland quarter-final against Limerick that one of the most bizarre injuries to afflict a GAA player occurred when he tried to jump off his motorbike when a van pulled out in front of him.

On landing, his knee buckled and he was gone. He got back in time for the Kilkenny game last year, but his tendon went.

When Jim Gavin took over as Dublin football manager, there was no olive branch offered to Keaney. He was all right with that.

Now, he is back and ready to go for another league campaign, beginning this Saturday with a visit of Offaly to the snug surroundings of Parnell Park.

On the line will be Anthony Daly once again. He stepped to one side and allowed the players to decide his future at the end of a poor season, and there was a lot of soul-searching done before they concluded that Daly was still the man for the job.

"We had a players' meeting and everyone knew it wasn't the management's fault. A lot of it was player driven and that's the way it is in most inter-county teams.

"The management do guide you and put you in the right place but it was ourselves who let ourselves down," explains Keaney.

"Hopefully that is a hard lesson learned from last year."

Their task would be vastly improved if they could have called on Tomas Brady, who has defected to the footballers' camp.

"He was a key player, no doubt," acknowledges Keaney.

"But we're all playing for Dublin at the end of the day, there's no football or hurling, there's no animosity between either squad. I wish him all the best."

Then of course there are Cormac Costello and Ciaran Kilkenny, two dual players of immense potential, who have opted for the footballers' camp – one of the final nails to be slammed into the coffin of the dual player ideal.

For now, though, Daly and Dublin are keeping it simple.

"This year we have totally boiled it all back down and our expectation is now on getting over the line against Offaly on Saturday night. We don't look beyond it because if we look beyond it, we just fall at the hurdle every time," says Keaney.

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