Pat Gilroy and the Dublin hurlers have had a solid start to 2018 scoring eight goals in Walsh Cup wins over Meath and Antrim.
While the standard of opposition will improve in the knock-out stages of that competition, as well as in the upcoming league and championship campaigns, the squad were given a boost this Wednesday with the return of a familiar face.
Conal Keaney will be returning to the Sky Blue hurlers as they look to emulate the form that saw them win a provincial title in 2013.
Under Gilroy, there is a buzz around the camp and the inclusion of the experienced 35-year-old will add much-needed championship know-how as the Dubs look to make a big splash in 2018.
The return of the Ballyboden man was greeted with delight from the Dublin faithful after journalist Shane Stapleton reported, and the Dublin Match Tracker confirmed that Keaney was returning to the panel.
Conal Keaney of @Bodengaa has rejoined the @DubGAAOfficial hurling panel for 2018. Gives great encouragement to fellow 35-year-olds like myself! Some career, considering he first joined senior county hurlers at the age of 17.
— Shane Stapleton (@ShaneSaint) January 10, 2018
— DubMatchTracker (@DubMatchTracker) January 10, 2018
Dublin host Wexford this weekend in the semi-final of the Walsh Cup and while Keaney may feature, however, the January 27 league opener against Offaly may be a more realistic date for his return.
Keaney initially retired from inter-county hurling in April 2016 after winning an All-Ireland football title with his club Ballyboden-St Enda’s, however, it appears that a return to the top level is imminent for Keaney.
With the Leinster Championship being played on a round-robin basis in 2018, it is important that Gilroy can assemble as big and strong a panel as possible as squad rotation and how you use certain players will play a big part in how successful teams are this season.