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New era looms but Boland focusing on himself after taking the long road back

Plagued by injury over the past two years, Dublin hurler Cian Boland is hoping to get back to his optimal level.

Cian Boland Source: James Crombie/INPHO

CIAN BOLAND HAS traveled a long road over the past two years or so.

He fell victim to ongoing patellar tendonitis (in other words, inflammation of the tendon that joins your kneecap to your shinbone, or a painful knee injury) which has left him watching from the sidelines in his tracksuit more often than not.

Having impressed through the Dublin underage ranks and truly coming to the fore when he hit U21 level, a call-up to the seniors was inevitable.

He was summoned by Ger Cunningham and featured in the championship throughout the summer of 2015. He was where he wanted to be, playing at the top level possible.

Destined for great things the following year, he couldn’t wait to get going again. It was his last year of U21s too, so he was determined to leave his mark and help his side to glory.

But he was struck down. Hard and fast. The unbearable pain in his knee left Boland with a cloud of uncertainty over the year ahead.

GPA DCU Business School Masters Scholarship Programme and MBA Programme announcement Source: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

He was ruled out for the senior league campaign, with the viewpoint that rest and recovery may have him back in action for the summer. That wasn’t to be. Well, not with the seniors.

Nothing would stop him from trying his hardest with the U21 side though. There was endless amounts of physio and individual training, watching from the sidelines as his team-mates went about their business evening after evening.

31 May 2016 – the starting team dropped for their Leinster U21 quarter-final against Wexford. And there the St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh forward was, starting in the number 12 jersey. ’Boland’s back,’ read the headlines. He was, but probably shouldn’t have been.

“The first year I got it, I struggled through the U21 campaign,” he tells The42. ”I couldn’t do much training or anything.”

He struggled through indeed, but taped his knee and featured as Dublin claimed their first Leinster title since 2011 and proceeded to the All-Ireland semi-final. A huge feat on an individual level too considering the pain he was withstanding.

That day in Thurles, it took extra-time to separate the Sky Blues and Galway but it ended in heartbreak for the former. Dejected, he knew that was that. The year was over, without a huge amount of hurling under his belt.

A dejected Cian Boland after the game Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“I actually haven’t played much since then,” he continues. “Not as much as I’d like to anyway.”

He went under the knife last October. And then it was back to the drawing board at the start of this year, back to trying to get right but to no real avail.

He returned to the Dublin fold, which was one step in the right direction and featured in this year’s league campaign — which the Dubs ended relegated to 1B after defeat to Clare in April.

May rolled around, and disaster struck again — leaving him in limbo, and out of action for Dublin’s championship run.

“I got injured again in a club game at the start of May so it’s been on and off. I haven’t been playing as consistently as I’d like.”

He’s hoping that will change however.

Of course, Dublin’s new hurling manager has been a huge talking point over the past week or so. Pat Gilroy — the 2011 All-Ireland-winning football boss — has taken the reins on a three-year term.

Pat Gilroy   Source: James Crombie/INPHO

At a media event this week, the Dubliner revealed that he yet has to formalise his playing panel and management team.

And Boland matched his words, saying he was unsure of what lay ahead just yet, and that he had no idea about how the panel would shape up.

“I’m not really too sure what the story is at the moment,” he continued. “Just with the appointment only made last week.

“From my own point of view, I’m just looking to get myself right again, to get back playing after the injuries I’ve had. That’s my main objective at the moment.”

It’s an exciting prospect though, he says:

“It’s an interesting appointment. It’s good. I hear he’s very organised so it’s good from that point of view.

“The main thing is he’s a Dublin man, it’s always good to have that passion from a manager from your county. It’s a positive from that point of view.”

GPA DCU Business School Masters Scholarship Programme and MBA Programme announcement Source: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

Off the field, Boland is still a DCU student. He did his undergraduate in Business, specialising in Marketing in his final year and is set to graduate next week. This year, he’s undertaking a Masters in Digital Marketing, ‘the right fit for me,’ he smiles.

He missed quite a chunk of his hurling exploits with the Glasnevin-based college through injury over the past few years, so he’s hoping to make amends in the months ahead.

“Hopefully I’ll get back playing, and get back playing with DCU. It’s good craic, the Fitzgibbon, so just hopefully I’m back eligible to play.

“This year’s a different story with this Masters. It’s quite intense even though I only have 12 hours of lectures, there’s a lot of independent study.

“There’s been a lot of late nights so far and I can imagine it’s only going to get worse. Hopefully I’ll pass with flying colours though!”

Cian Boland was one of six inter-county GAA players to receive Masters scholarships at DCU Business School, announced on Thursday.

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