David Treacy: Dublin's Conal Keaney ‘just does what he does’
Keaney’s heroics against Galway see Dublin head to O’Moore Park for clash with Laois
Dublin’s David Treacy: “It would be foolish to look past Laois because I can tell you now what they are going to bring will be massive.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Dublin forward David Treacy would prefer not to pay tribute to fellow hurler Conal Keaney while the wheel keeps on turning. Such mid-summer praise is like telling your cousin that you love them. It’s weird, wholly unnecessary and only serves to spoil the mood.
“He’d hate for me to talk about him like that,” Treacy replied to a question about Dublin scalping Galway on June 15th. “He just does what he does.”
But Keaney’s heroics that day cannot be allowed to simply slide past. The 36-year-old’s confrontational, ravenous hurling went a long way to prematurely ending the Tribemen’s vested interest in the hurling championship.
The brutality and economy of performance reminded many of an evening way back in 2003 when he threatened to spark Kilkenny down in Nowlan Park (Eddie Brennan intervened with a goal). Some 16 years later Keaney’s performance was still real. He slowed time. He compelled others to carry the torch. Chris Crummy was electrified by it all.
That victory sends Dublin down to O’Moore Park on Sunday knowing the only option is to banish Laois to set up a fight to the death with Tipperary in Croke Park. It gives the city’s hurling legions the gift, and curse, of hope.
Treacy squirms a little before unloading the truth as matter-of-factly as anyone can show love to a teammate.
“Is anyone really surprised? That’s just Conal,” said Treacy in Twitter’s Dublin headquarters on Thursday at the AIG announcement that the 20x20 logo will be temporarily branded on all Dublin jerseys in a continued attempt to promote female sport. “If he wasn’t prepared to be at that level he wouldn’t have come back. He always has that in him. What he also has is he’d hate for me to talk about him like that. He just does what he does.
“His attitude always is to come to training every single day and work unbelievably hard even at his age. His longevity is amazing, but it is more so he is so headstrong. His mindset is brilliant.
“Again he’d be giving out to me, saying ‘it’s only one unit of one team on that day.’ He did his bit and everyone did their bit, the impact off the bench was amazing.”
Treacy was confined to the stand recuperating from a “small tweak in the hip flexor” which has fully healed to make him available to face Laois. He will be taking the frees if Paul Ryan fails to return. It’s also unclear whether fullback Eoghan O’Donnell has recovered from a hamstring injury.
Regardless, the expectation – almost everywhere except in the mind of Eddie Brennan – is for Dublin to stroll past Laois.
“If you told me at the start of the year that we’d have the Dubs coming down to play us in O’Moore Park in a preliminary quarter-final I’d have taken the hand clean off you,” said Brennan last weekend.
No, the Laois manager has never contemplated defeat to Dublin. Same goes for Niall Corcoran. The former Dublin defender, of Galway stock, is currently coaching Laois, and presumably the confidence this pair have injected into an unheralded panel should guarantee a tetchy championship duel.
If Laois can mirror their manager they will instantly lunge for the Dublin jugular.
“Eddie Brennan was known for goals during his time with Kilkenny,” said Treacy. “We are fully aware of how that goes.”
Treacy soldiered with Corcoran for the bones of a decade, and sees his reappearance as an elite coach as a natural progression.
“It’s not surprising to me that he has got involved at intercounty as he has been working for years with Kilmacud Crokes. So he has that calibre. Even speaking to him it is not surprising he has gone to this level and has brought the best out of players.”
We gently poke Treacy for a few more coins but his only issue is the never-ending roadworks outside Naas. No more Parnell Park gatherings. Will that change the way Dublin hurls?
“Home advantage is huge, so it is how we are best prepared for that. We expect a massive crowd from Laois who were well supported for all their matches this year. It is only 50 minutes spin down the road, albeit with one lane on the M7. You saw the crowds there in Parnell Park, it really was amazing, they willed us on. I know this because I was in the crowd. You could sense it. It did make a big difference.
“Hopefully we can cancel out the home advantage. Portlaoise is a neutral venue for many Leinster fixtures in the past so a lot of our players have played there previously. It’s how we can settle down as quickly as possible for the first 10, 15 minutes, gather our surroundings and get to grips with that.”
Looking forward to facing Tipperary in Croke Park?
“No. No concentration on Munster or what’s going on there. As far as we are concerned it is Sunday, and Sunday only. It would be foolish to look past Laois because I can tell you now what they are going to bring will be massive.”
Any sympathy for Galway?
“It is what it is.”