Danny Sutcliffe & Conal Keaney named to start for Dublin
Sutcliffe back after self-imposed exile and Keaney follows up last week's appearance off the bench16:25 Friday 2 February 2018, 16:25 2 Feb 2018
The prodigal son Danny Sutcliffe is set to make a return to competitive action proper for the Dublin senior hurlers this Sunday afternoon.
Sutcliffe has been named in manager Pat Gilroy's starting team to face Antrim in Division 1B of the Allianz League along with Conal Keaney and Paul Ryan.
Sutcliffe has not played a league or championship game with the Boys in Blue since the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Waterford in July 2015 although he did feature in the Walsh Cup clash with Wexford last month.
The St Jude's club man left the panel at the end of 2015 for reasons which remained unclear for a long time but this week he was adamant that there were no issues with the former management set-up led by Ger Cunningham.
“I do everything on my own terms. It was nothing to do with the manager or players or how it was going. I was going away anyway regardless of how good it was going," said Sutcliffe who inisisted that he wanted to take the opportunity work in the United States on a grad visa.
The forward played football with Ulster in New York last summer and admitted that he would have stayed were it not for tighter visa controls under President Trump's administration, scuppering his chances of an 18-month extension.
He revealed how a phone call from the new boss was all it took for him to decide to return to the Blues fold.
"There was contact with Pat and obviously knowing what he did with the footballers — he changed the culture of football — and Mickey Whelan, having the chance to be involved with him.
"That is all it was, just an offer to come back in, I wasn’t automatically on the team. I didn’t want to miss that train. It is a brilliant set-up, a great environment to be involved in."
Cunningham's legacy will be the amount of young players blooded during his term in charge but there is no question that the senior hurlers have regressed since those heady days under Anthony Daly.
Is Sutcliffe regretful now that he was not around to try and help stop the rot.
"No regrets," he told OffTheBall.com. "It's like anything, playing, you can't second guess yourself. The decision is always right at the time, I feel. It was tough watching [Dublin over the last two years] because I would be close friends with the lads but it wasn't something I was going to be a part of. I just had plans to be away and work and you have to do that."
There's some old friends joining Sutcliffe in the XV that start in Pearse Park, Dunloy with Keaney continuing on from last week's appearance off the bench while Donal Burke has some competiton for free-taking duties with Ryan also returning to the set-up.
Ryan was a curious omission from the winter training panel that Ger Cunningham announced in November 2016 but the Ballyboden St Endas forward clarified the issue at the time on Twitter.
"Contrary to what's in the papers it was my decision to opt out of the 2017 panel. I do however wish the boys the best of luck for the year."
In 2016 he came on as a substitute in the Leinster championship clashes with Wexford and Kilkenny before going on to score four points in the All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Cork.
They are three of six personnel changes Gilroy has made to the team that was hammered by Offaly in last week's league opener at Croke Park with Ronan Smith, Alan Moore, Fionn Ó'Riain Broin as well as Paul Winters, who is replaced by Eamonn Dillon, all dropping out of the forward line.
Eogahn O'Donnell replaces Cian Hendricken at corner back and Cian McBride replaces Johnny McCaffrey so Chris Crummey moves over to centre-back while James Madden is handed a start at left-half back.
DUBLIN senior hurling team v Antrim
Allianz League - Division 1B
Pearse Park, Dunloy - Sun. Feb.4 - 14:00
- Alan Nolan
- Paddy Smyth
- Bill O’Carroll
- Eoghan O’Donnell
- Shane Barrett
- Chris Crummey
- James Madden
- Cian McBride
- Tomas Connolly
- Donal Burke
- Fergal Whitely
- Danny Sutcliffe
- Conal Keaney
- Eamon Dillon
- Paul Ryan
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