Ryan O’Dwyer has returned to Dublin training for the first time since the brain injury he sustained in a vicious assault in Birmingham last October.
Manager Ger Cunningham confirmed the 29-year-old came through his first session on Tuesday night, having been given the all-clear by medics to return to training.
“I think he played 10 minutes for (Kilmacud) Crokes in a league match last Saturday but he was back in fully last night. And back being Ryan O’Dwyer! He gives us that physical presence that we need — it was great to see him back last night. He was in flying form.”
The Cashel-born hurler was attacked in a queue for a nightclub and had his skull fractured and jaw broken, as well as suffering a significant amount of bleeding on the brain. He was hospitalised for a week after the incident and afterwards was sleeping for more than 20 hours a day.
“It was a long road,” said Cunningham. “From when it happened, obviously something like that, the serious injury that he got, I think he took a bit of time out to assess how serious it was. But I think what came through to us was Ryan’s passion, his real passion for hurling and he really wanted to get back.
“I think once he made up his mind to do it... he had to be patient, because the medical people were telling him he had to take a bit of time and it would be towards April/May before he would be back. But it’s a great boost to us now that he’s back in now and he’ll be playing club championship next week.”
Cunningham also paid tribute to Conal Keaney, who announced his retirement from inter-county hurling last week. “He was an excellent hurler. He got an All Star nomination in 2003… but at the height of his career, 2011-12 when he came back, he was a phenomenal player. We played him last year at wing-back in a couple of matches, and he was that good that he was able to adapt, to be able to go from being an excellent forward to being a very good defender as well. Excellent hurler, really.
“He had everything — great skill, great touch, great hand, great strength. That’s when he was at his best, the time he had the motorbike accident. But a great hurler to watch.”
Cunningham said there is no return-to-action plan for Peter Kelly (dislocated kneecap) or Cian Boland (knee). However, Niall Corcoran (wrist) and Paul Schutte (shoulder) are back in training.
“Peter’s time to come back playing — we were hoping he would be able to play some part in the league. At this stage, he’d certainly be a doubt for the championship match against Wexford. He is still rehabbing it and he is not back on the pitch yet. We have to be patient. These things can be slow. We have to make sure it’s 100%.
“Cian is still a couple of weeks away from playing. He’s come back a couple of times and has had a couple of different setbacks. He’s got to rest it and give it a chance for recovery. The championship is an achievable target for him so hopefully he’ll be available.”
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