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Dublin: 4°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

'That’s three games in six days' - Dublin concern at Fitzgibbon scheduling ahead of league opener

The Sky Blues have 24 players involved in the third-level competition over the coming weeks.

Dublin during the national anthem yesterday.
Dublin during the national anthem yesterday.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

HE’S ONLY A couple of months into life as a county boss, but already Mattie Kenny is being acquainted with the various headaches that the GAA calendar tends to throw up for men in his position.

Dublin, who exited the Walsh Cup to Galway yesterday at the semi-final stage, are operating with a sizeable squad ahead of their Allianz Hurling League opener on 26 January.

Kenny’s panel remains bloated, partly out of necessity. He expects 24 members of his squad to be involved with third-level sides when the Fitzgibbon Cup kicks off this Saturday and again the following Thursday.

Two days later, Dublin begin their Division 1B campaign against Carlow and Kenny is concerned at the demands being placed on his young players at this stage of the season.

“That’s three games in six days,” he said following yesterday’s game in Parnell Park. “So the planners, this scheduling that the GAA is talking about is gone horribly wrong again.

We’ve 24 guys involved in the Fitzgibbon. And we have to manage that the week after next and try to get a team on the pitch against Carlow.

“We’ve kind of an extended panel or a bigger panel at the moment,” Kenny continued.

“There were 10 or 11 guys there that are on the panel and are carrying various injuries or knocks that are very important or will be going forward.

“We need to get a number of them back on the park so that a lot of these guys who played today and are involved in colleges can get an element of rest also.”

Rian McBride with Aidan Harte Rian McBride is tackedl by Aidan Harte. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Eoghan O’Donnell, Rian McBride, Fiontan McGibb, Shane Barrett, Fergal Whitely and Donal Burke were all withdrawn during the defeat to Galway. Kenny was cognisant of the heavy schedule those players have on the horizon as they serve two masters.

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“You seen we took off guys there today because we know, the loading on them guys,” he said.

While we’re competitive animals and in the game you’re in, you want to do the best, we had to take guys off there today knowing the loading that is coming on the guys over the next few days.”

On a positive note, he confirmed veteran forward Conal Keaney was committed to lining out with the county this season. The 36-year-old recently underwent shoulder surgery and is aiming for a return near the end of March.

“Conal is definitely back. But he went on an operation on his shoulder before Christmas and he’s out for 12 to 14 weeks. So we’ll be getting Conal back at the end of the league.

“So the priority for Conal now is to get his shoulder rehabbed and that’s something we’re working on with him.” 

Kenny was satisfied with the manner by which Dublin hauled Galway back in the second-half, overturning an eight-point deficit to bring themselves level by the 70th minute. The late heroics from the stick of substitute Joe Canning denied Dublin at the death, but there were plenty of positives to take from the game.

“We’ve been training in the New Year building towards the league. I was delighted to get a workout of that standard. It’s good when you get games of that quality at this time of year and it should help us going towards the league.

“There was a bit more intensity in that game today. Every ball was well contested. But that’s what we need this time of the year.

“We need to be tested. And we’re delighted Galway brought a real competitive edge to the game there today. That can only do us going forward.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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