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Eoghan O'Donnell: Dublin are keen to get Conal Keaney back
Last Updated: 25/09/20 8:42am
At 38, Conal Keaney is showing no signs of slowing down and the Ballyboden man looks set another championship campaign with the Dubs.
Keaney was nominated for an All-Star back in 2003, and looks as fit as ever ahead of the 2020 championship. Having scored 1-1 in last week's county final loss to Cuala, he now focuses on the big ball this weekend as the Firhouse Road side face Ballymun in the Dublin football decider.
But from next week onwards, he will likely be joining back up with Mattie Kenny's squad as they prepare for the upcoming Leinster Championship opener against Laois.
"I haven't been talking to him. I haven't heard anything otherwise, so I assume he will be [returning]," said Dublin teammate Eoghan O'Donnell, when asked if Keaney will be back for another year.
"He's a great player for Ballyboden and obviously for Dublin. He's coming into a really, really impressive run of form, so we'll be very keen to have him back. I haven't heard anything otherwise and I imagine he'll be there until we hear otherwise."
So what is the secret to his longevity?
"It's a good question because I'm 24 and I feel in bits! I don't know how he's doing it at 38," laughed O'Donnell.
"But he's been around a long time now and he has a lot of experience, so he knows how to get his body right for games. I'm not really sure what the Boden scene is, if he might have to miss the Tuesday session and a light session on Thursday to get himself up for a match at the weekend - but whatever he's doing at the moment, long may it continue because he's gone into some run of form."
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Positional switches in Dublin?
The club campaign will have given Kenny food for thought, with some of his defenders thriving in more advanced roles.
Chris Crummey was a driving force from centre-forward in Lucan Sarsfields' run to the semi-finals, while Seán Moran scored 2-3 for Cuala in the county final at corner-forward.
"Seán Moran is a huge presence for us in the backs, he's one of the most composed people on the ball in the game, so he'd be definitely a loss if we were to take him out of the backs," said O'Donnell.
"Between the experimentation with Chris during the league and Liam Rushe going up there, I don't know...we really only have been training back a week or so, so we haven't got into the nitty-gritty of things.
"Chris is such a big man and a ball winner. It's just about getting the balance right, to where he can add the most for us as a team. If that's in the forwards or the backs, I'm not really sure. He's such a quality hurler and he had a great campaign for Lucan up in the forwards this year, so he's hitting a good run of form. It's exciting that we have options there, and Mattie will certainly have a headache when it comes to team selection."
And having played in forwards himself for his club this summer, O'Donnell knows how challenging it can be to make the switch:
"It's very different. As a fullback, the ball is always coming to me, I never have to go looking for it. So it's a very different type of approach you have to take to the game. For me, I really enjoyed it. It was a different pace, it was a different responsibility, and you have to try and get on a few scores. Not that I was very successful, but it was a chance for something different which is always nice."
But for now, the Whitehall Colmcille full-back is fully focused on the upcoming championship as the Sky Blues look to atone for last year's shock defeat to Laois.
It was a game that O'Donnell missed through injury, and he will be eager to help the Dubs exact revenge when they face the O'Moore County next month.
"It's always very frustrating when you've an injury," he said. "Players want to play matches, and missing any championship game is a killer.
"It's a killer every year you get knocked out, to be honest. I don't know if last year was especially [so]. Unless you're winning an All-Ireland, unless you're winning trophies, you're not happy. So it's a killer in general. But it seems like a long time ago now, to be honest. This is a completely new season.
"It feels like nearly two seasons ago, because we had the league this year and then the break so it's a brand new start. We're just looking forward to it and being very happy to have a championship and something to look forward to."
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