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Kenny targets march

Dublin manager is aiming for knockout games next month

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Eamonn Dillon (pictured) was forced out of the game against Laois with a hamstring injury but Liam Rushe and Paul Ryan will be in the frame for the Carlow game in two weeks

Eamonn Dillon (pictured) was forced out of the game against Laois with a hamstring injury but Liam Rushe and Paul Ryan will be in the frame for the Carlow game in two weeks

SPORTSFILE

Eamonn Dillon (pictured) was forced out of the game against Laois with a hamstring injury but Liam Rushe and Paul Ryan will be in the frame for the Carlow game in two weeks

News of the scheduled return of a handful of the Dublin hurlers' key men over the coming fortnight was tempered by the raft of injuries they suffered last Sunday in Parnell Park.

Mattie Kenny revealed that Liam Rushe, Shane Barrett, David Treacy, Fintan McGibb and Paul Ryan are all in the frame to be involved when Dublin go to Carlow in two weeks time.

He delivered the update after Eamonn Dillon, Cian O'Callaghan, Danny Sutcliffe had gone off with hamstring strains during Dublin's seven-point win over Laois in a game where Mark Schutte and James Madden were also injured.

None of the injuries are expected to be long-term, however.

All three hamstring victims walked off the pitch unaided and Kenny described them afterwards as "strains."

Some are likely to miss the Carlow game, a match which Kenny has already identified as beginning the 'second phase' of Dublin's spring.

"I don't know if it's the heavy ground," Kenny observed, "or if the intensity of the games is much higher than we've been playing."

Dillon, whose injury seemed the most severe, had already scored Dublin's first goal by the time he hobbled off.

Of greater concern to Kenny will be O'Callaghan, who missed most of last year with a severe hamstring injury.

Sutcliffe, Dublin's captain this year, had some hamstring issues over winter.

Similarly, Schutte has had myriad recent injury issues over the past three season, although his absence for all of last summer was due to a shoulder problem.

Unsurprisingly then, Kenny confirmed he was happy for a two-week break from competitive action after a hectic start to the hurling year.

Five of the players Kenny used on Sunday had been part of DCU's Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-final victory over Waterford IT on Thursday evening and are set to play next weekend as the northside college go in search of a first third-level title.

Having recorded their first victory of this year's League, Kenny admitted there was "some merit" in the criticism of his team's performance in Nowlan Park a week previously.

Elaborate

"Some of the criticism, I suppose was about being caught in defence a couple of times trying to work it out... I think some of the comments that were passed, there is some merit to them.

"This time of the year - cold hands, sticky ball, bad pitches. You can't over-elaborate," he stressed. "There's certain things we're working on.

"But in the early rounds of the League, certain fundamentals have to be there. Which is your work rate and your attitude and your aggression and your ability to get to breaking ball.

"We were a bit off against Kilkenny. We realised that. We realise that within our own group, which is the most important thing.

"But we worked on it during the week. We spoke about it

"I think in the course of the game, they (Kilkenny) had 36 shots, we had 32. Yet there was 12 points in it," Kenny pointed out.

"At half-time, it was 2-10 t0 0-10 with equal (number of) shots. Their two goals in the first half were big, big scores for them.

"Do you want to win matches at this time of year? Of course we do. But it's all about building. And overall it wasn't the scoreline that upset me. There was certain times of the games when we weren't competitive enough."

A victory in Carlow on February 15th would likely leave Dublin requiring one further win against either Wexford or Clare to finish in one of the top three spots in the Division required to make the play-off stages of this year's League.

Fate

Kenny admitted prolonging Dublin's spring was now a priority.

"Block one was these two games," he explained. "Now we have a two-week break and then we have three matches in two weeks again.

"Them three matches will decide our fate in the League. Unfortunately the round-robin part of the League is over on the first of March.

"So ideally you'd like to get a couple more matches in March if possible. But that means we have to get two or three results in the next block."