MICHEAL Martin has approached one of the country's top GAA stars in a bid to persuade him to run for Fianna Fail in next summer's elections.
Waterford hurler Tony Browne was personally contacted by the FF leader and is "seriously considering" the request, the Herald has learned.
The move is part of a major Fianna Fail strategy aimed at persuading well-known sport and business personalities to run under the party banner in the local elections.
Browne, now 40, is showing no sign of slowing up on the hurling field and is highly regarded within GAA circles.
High-profile lawyer John Hennessy has already agreed to run.
But the news that Mr Martin has approached Tony Browne indicates his determination to persuade the electorate that Fianna Fail is a revived party.
"The leader approached Tony, who is seriously considering it.
"It would be a big step for Tony but he is approaching the time when he will hang up his boots," said a source.
Browne has played 23 seasons for Waterford and is the county's most capped player.
The party has no TDs in the constituency, which was previously a stronghold for former minister Martin Cullen.
Fianna Fail strategists have drafted a list of potential candidates who are seen as being capable of landing a Dail seat in the General Election, which is due to take place in 2016.
However Mr Martin is adamant that the party must avoid a situation whereby members of the previous government use support for Fianna Fail to make a return to politics.
Former TDs Mary Hanafin, John O'Donoghue, Charlie O'Connor and Sean Haughey are all believed to be keen on running in the next election.