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Blow for Dublin as Cuala captain to miss Leinster championship with serious injury

Paul Schutte ripped his hamstring off the bone for the second time in four months during the All-Ireland final replay on Saturday.

THE DUBLIN HURLERS will be boosted by the return of the Cuala stars for the upcoming Leinster SHC, but Pat Gilroy will likely have to plan without experienced defender Paul Schutte for his first summer in charge.

Paul Schutte celebrates Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Schutte captained Cuala to the thrilling All-Ireland club final replay win over Na Piarsaigh on Saturday but was forced off just 28 minutes into the game with a reoccurrence of the devastating hamstring injury that kept him sidelined over the winter.

“It came off the bone so I’d say it could be another four, six-months spell (out) for me,” Schutte revealed after their 2-17 to 1-17 win over the Limerick champions.

“It probably will (rule him out for the summer). But we’ll see what the physio and doctor say anyway.”

The 29-year-old tore his hamstring off the bone for the first time in Cuala’s Leinster final defeat of Kilcormac/Killoughey on 3 December and missed the All-Ireland semi-final victory over Liam Mellows in February.

But Schutte successfully rehabbed the injury and managed to play the entire drawn game, including extra-time, at corner-back against Na Piarsaigh in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day despite doing practically no training in the lead-up to the game.

He was a late addition to the Cuala team on Saturday in place of Nicky Kenny but the hamstring didn’t last and he was forced ashore just before half-time.

“I knew I was very lucky to play,” he explained

“I tore my hamstring off the bone in the Leinster final. I didn’t train at all, I did about 10 minutes of the warm-up before the match, that was the sum total. I didn’t get to train or anything.

Paul Schutte leads out his team Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I thought I’d be lucky to get 10 minutes in the first game and to come through that I was delighted. I suppose it was a bit too much the back-to-back weeks for me.

“I genuinely did two 10-minute warm-ups in training the week before (the drawn game) and that was it. I was very lucky to get through the first game and it just went there. It was a bit too much.”

Schutte is facing into another lengthy period of rehab for the serious injury, which forced Irish rugby legend Paul O’Connell into retirement and effectively ended the AFL career of Kerry’s Tommy Walsh.

He knew the risks involved and was happy to put his body on the line with an All-Ireland title at stake for Cuala. The Dalkey outfit became just the fifth hurling club to win back-to-back All-Irelands and Schutte believes they now deserve to be rated as a “great team.”

“I’ve always felt we were a great team but I suppose now you have something to back it up. It’s for the rest of Ireland to see that we’re a great team but I always believe in this team and so did the lads.

Cuala players celebrate at the final whistle Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“If you want to be taken as a great team you have to be seen to be pushing and showing great character. We should have probably lost the game last week. We rode our luck a little bit but it was great character from the lads to never give up and just keep going and going and going.”

Schutte’s expected absence is a blow for Dublin boss Gilroy, who will hope Schutte’s younger brother Mark rejoins the hurling panel after spending 2017 on the periphery of Jim Gavin’s football squad.

Cian O’Callaghan, Oisin Gough, Sean Moran, Darragh O’Connell, Sean Treacy, David Treacy, Colm Cronin and Jake Malone could all return to training with the county side over the coming weeks as they step up the preparations for the Leinster SHC round robin phase which begins in May.

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Kevin O'Brien

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