Kelly, who underwent a hip operation in November, last night played his first competitive match since Cork’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Donegal in August as his club, Ballincollig, took on Bantry Blues in a Kelleher Shield game.
Ballincollig face a second league game in four nights on Friday against Aghada, and Kelly is hoping to use the two matches to help him prepare for the county SFC first-round clash with Douglas on May 6, but he does not want to look too far ahead.
“I’ve trained fully with Cork for the last two weeks,” he said, “but it has been a case of easing back into it, after drills you’d be feeling wrecked from it, it obviously takes time to get up to the level.
“I’m looking at the next couple of club games and then the county championship against Douglas, after that it’s less than three weeks until the Limerick match, so it will be hard to get fully fit in time for that.”
While Kelly would liked to have had some action during Cork’s Allianz Division 1 campaign, he was prevented from doing so as his recuperation took longer than expected, though not because of any problems with his hip.
“After I had the operation I was told that it would take three or four months,” he said.
“That would have been the end of March of the start of April, and we had been erring on the side of caution but then I tweaked a calf while running. I thought that it would cost me one or two weeks but it ended up costing me five, though in a way it helped as it gave the hip more time to recover.
“It was a bit frustrating at times as I’d have liked to have been back for the end of the league, but it was more important to ensure it was fully healed.”