Tony Kelly aiming to be back in time for Waterford clash

Clare’s 2013 Hurler of the Year says he is unlikely to return in time for the league

 Tony Kelly at Croke Park flanked by ‘Irish Volunteers’ William Nortley and Adam Cahill as the GAA announced plans for the 1916 Rising event at Croke Park. Photo:  Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Tony Kelly at Croke Park flanked by ‘Irish Volunteers’ William Nortley and Adam Cahill as the GAA announced plans for the 1916 Rising event at Croke Park. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

 

Clare’s 2013 Hurler of the Year Tony Kelly is to ease his way back from injury and is targeting the county’s Munster championship match against Waterford for his comeback.

There had been hopes that Kelly might have recovered from the ankle ligament problem in time for the latter stages of the league.

Speaking at yesterday’s launch of the GAA’s plans to commemorate the 1916 Rising the player said that injury, picked up in training in early February, was however on the mend.

“I’m on the road to recovery. I’ve seven weeks out; it’s usually a 12 week injury. I’ve another nice bit to go. I haven’t really started rehab yet. I think I’m on course to start it next week. I’ll be back on the bike or the pool next week. It’ll be another maybe two weeks before I go back running. It’ll be a slow process but at least I’m getting there.

“At this stage I’m definitely out of the next two league games and probably a quarter-final and a semi-final. That (Waterford match) will probably be the first big game back.

No problem

He has been lucky in both the time of the year – he pointed out that his team-mate Patrick Donnellan had sustained a cruciate injury which wipes out his season – and the fact that Clare are campaigning in Division One B where his absence has been less difficult to endure.

Manager David Fitzgerald’s backroom team has been reshuffled and Kelly is particularly enthusiastic about the return of Paul Kinnerk, who worked with the team when winning the All-Ireland three years ago.

“It’s a massive boost, I’d rate him up there as one of the best coaches or trainers I’ve ever worked with and if you asked any of the lads they’d tell you the same. I think the appointment of bringing him back, Aonghus O’Brien in as well as another coach and Donal Óg, have been good moves.”

The years since the All-Ireland have been difficult for Clare with minimal impact in the championship and relegation from last season’s Division One A. As a member of an immensely successful generation of young hurlers, the change of key has been discordant.

“I suppose a lot of us were coming from under-21 and minor where we had been winning a lot of games and then went on to win an All-Ireland in 2013. In the last two years we were playing in big games but losing them . . . but we are trying to get out of that rut of losing those big championship games this year.

Annual basis

He doesn’t think though that the experiences of 2014 and ’15 have undermined the natural confidence of the team. At senior level achievement is renewable on a strictly annual basis.

“I don’t think it impacts on younger player . . . maybe they don’t know any different. Maybe older players that have won and lost before might sense the occasion around them and sense that losing is a massive thing whereas I think in 2013 we didn’t really know any different.

“We didn’t really know between what winning and losing really was at senior level. After winning, the following year you realise that if you lose it’s all over – there are fine margins between winning and losing. Kilkenny seem to have it perfected and they come back hungrier and hungrier every year and I think they are the benchmark all of us are trying to get to.”

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