Rushe job for Liam
Fit-again Dubs All-Star faces hectic schedule of action on his return
LIAM RUSHE is determined to make up for lost time after putting his recent injury woes behind him this week.
The All-Star midfielder has been struggling with a broken hand since late October, the problem exacerbated by a missed diagnosis. But now, having made his playing comeback for the UCD hurlers on Tuesday night, he's facing the type of hectic early-season schedule that has become a familiar theme of his senior career.
Rushe will feature for Leinster in their semi-final of the revived M Donnelly Interprovincial Series, against Munster, in Nowlan Park this Sunday.
The following Wednesday, he'll be in the UCD colours again for their Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-final showdown away to UCC.
And the following Sunday? Well, that just happens to be the date for Dublin's Allianz League opener in Galway ... and Rushe has already put up his hand, now thankfully healed, for inclusion.
"The hand held up (on Tuesday night) in a top quality game, UCD against WIT, and it got the whole hour -- so it's looking good," he told the Evening Herald.
"I'll probably take it easy in the training, just play the matches for the next few weeks and get into it. I'm awfully rusty."
Lack of game-time apart, he's hopeful that the Division 1A opener in Pearse Stadium won't come too soon. "Ah, I wouldn't say so," he said, "although on my form on Tuesday night, I wouldn't say I'd be getting my spot! But I've a few more games to come."
The play-anywhere Rushe lined out at full-forward against WIT and, although held scoreless, was relieved to get back on the pitch after an injury saga dating back to October 30.
His club, St Pat's Palmerstown, were pipped at the post by Naomh Fionnbarra in the Dublin SHC 'B' final at Parnell Park that afternoon. Adding injury to insult, the Pat's centre-back suffered a break at the base of his third metacarpal -- "almost a broken wrist", in his own words.
But? "It got missed in X-ray," he explained. "Apparently it's a very clear spot, so it shouldn't have been missed in the X-ray. "I kept going back. The physio thought maybe it was something to do with tendons or something like that, but sure come January I still couldn't hurl -- not a chance. I got an MRI -- ah sure, it was a fairly clean break."
Thankfully, surgery was not required, although there was a fear that if he had kept on playing, it would "come apart". Luckily it stayed in place, but it took a long time to heal. The cast came off last Saturday, he had a "few pucks" on Sunday and then it was straight back into the Fitzgibbon Cup coalface on Tuesday night.
Looking ahead to Dublin's league title defence, Rushe alluded to the new top-tier structure (with just six teams in Division 1A) when predicting: "There's going to be an added intensity to every game, really, because there are less teams so each game takes on more importance. Two wins would probably have kept you up the last few years; it mightn't now this year.
"So, less games, looking for bigger crowds, and really looking forward to the games in Croke Park as well."
He stressed the "massive" importance of having a solid spring in preparation for the big championship battles ahead. "I was asked are we confident in ourselves that we can just turn it on come summer? Of course we're confident, but no team likes to be in that position, having maybe been relegated from the league in April and then looking to pull out top-class performances in June," he pointed out.
"So we'd like to go in with a bit of momentum, with a few wins under our belts, and it would be great to win it again."
Rushe signs off on a final positive note: he fully expects Dublin's 'Cruciate Three', Conal Keaney, Stephen Hiney and Tomás Brady, to reappear in Sky Blue at some stage this season.
"I'd say you'll see the three lads back certainly this year," he said, if not for the latter league stages, then certainly in the summer.
"They are three big players, three big men. And they're key personalities, so it's great to see them back; they're jogging and everything."