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Kenny happy with winter progress as Dublin get set to spring into action

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Mattie Kenny

Mattie Kenny

SPORTSFILE

Conal Keaney

Conal Keaney

SPORTSFILE

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Mattie Kenny

Mattie Kenny's priorities for this year's Walsh Cup were summarised in the brief involvement of Seán Moran against Galway in Parnell Park last Sunday.

With 15 minutes to go in a one-point defeat, Dublin's centre-back of the past two seasons came on for James Madden in what was his first appearance of 2020.

According to Kenny, Moran had only disembarked a long haul flight from Australia some time on Saturday evening.

His need to get over the lingering effects of jet-lag was, apparently, superseded by his manager's desire to see him hurling again two weeks before Dublin's league campaign begins in Nowlan Park.

"It's not about winning the league," said Kenny of Dublin's coming Division 1B campaign, "but it's important that guys play to a system and they get used to playing together.

"You have to get value out of the league otherwise you won't be prepared for the Championship."

Soon after Moran's introduction, Danny Sutcliffe came on for his maiden appearance of the season having spent the last few weeks healing a hamstring injury.

That took Kenny's total number of players used in this year's Walsh Cup to 35.

"They're guys that will be back training next week," Kenny outlined.

"We'll reassess things after today's game and after the Fitzgibbon round of matches.

Safely

"Hopefully the lads came through safely. And hopefully we'll be nice and healthy and fresh going down to Kilkenny in two weeks time."

Kenny pronounced himself happy with another eight championship regulars from last summer who were not included in those 35 players used across a four-game Walsh Cup campaign - Eoghan O'Donnell, Liam Rushe, Conal Keaney, Shane Barrett, David and Seán Treacy, Darragh O'Connell and Cian Hendricken.

As yet, there has been no decision over whether Keaney will come back for what would be a 20th year playing at inter-county level.

But Kenny intimated that he would speak to the Ballyboden player some time this week.

Given he is currently without serious injury, it would be a surprise if Keaney opted not to come back at some point during the league.

In the meantime, Kenny explained he would keep the Dublin training panel in its current, bloated format until at least such time as the Fitzgibbon Cup ends.

"For training purposes, to keep the training worthwhile and competitive, we'll hold on to the guys for another couple of weeks," he explained.

"I know the county board will be on to us in the coming days to cut it back to the League panel, but we'll try and hold on to them for as long as possible."

More important than Dublin's Walsh Cup record of three victories and one defeat was the development of Kenny's squad.

Donal Burke returned to the set-up after spending last summer in America.

Cian O'Callaghan, Mark Schutte and Rian McBride also made comebacks after missing large parts of 2019 while Kilmacud Crokes pair, Marc Howard from Cork and Lorcan McMullen from Down also made their first appearances in a Dublin jersey.

"It's about trying to keep everyone healthy and work through this period," Kenny explained.

"But in a way, the last few weeks have gone reasonably well for us."

"And it's about getting guys back into training. We had a number of guys who had corrective surgeries at the end of last season.

"So it's about coaxing them lads back into training. You don't want to push guys too hard at this time of year if you're rehabing from injuries."

This being Kenny's second season, having the started the first somewhat on the back foot following an early November appointment, he admitted all of the elements of the set up were in closer tune with one another now by comparison.

"The guys know the set up and we know the players," he outlined. "That doesn't guarantee anything.

"But we're reasonably happy where we're at today.

"It's over the next few weeks that we get all the lads together and get them training together and we're looking forward to the start of the League in two weeks time."