Friday 15 December 2017

Horan calls in ex-Connacht star Duffy to train with Mayo squad

Gavin Duffy
Gavin Duffy
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Former Connacht rugby player Gavin Duffy could yet play a part in Mayo's championship plans after the county confirmed that he has joined up with their senior football squad.

Duffy, who played in an All-Ireland minor final with Mayo in 1999, which they lost to Benny Coulter's Down, took a full part in training on Tuesday night just days after wrapping up a long career with Connacht.

The Ballina man has expressed a desire to resume his Gaelic football career, which he had to cut short to pursue a professional rugby career.

The former Irish international, who is based in Galway, has played occasionally for Salthill-Knocknacarra.

It is understood that Duffy was invited to train by Mayo boss James Horan. It remains to be seen, however, if he will feature in their summer plans, but Horan did suggest in a statement that they will assess his progress over the next few weeks.

"Gavin Duffy was invited down to join up with the squad for a couple of weeks. The management will have a look at him to see where he is at. He is a professional athlete who brings great leadership and a presence to the squad."

Duffy has had offers from other Premiership and Championship rugby clubs, but, in a recent interview, did not hide his desire to resume playing football.

"It's something I want to do while I'm still able to move around the Gaelic pitch," he said when his departure was announced last week.

Horan has wasted no time in inviting him to training in the wake of his departure from Connacht to assess if he could be a potential recruit to his squad. If he can quickly rediscover his touch and harness the power and fitness generated over 14 years as a professional rugby player, he could give them some added impetus.

The 32-year-old never played senior football for Mayo as he signed a professional contract not long after the the 1999 final. Duffy and another Ballina man and former Mayo player, James Gill, were midfield on that '99 team which also featured Alan Dillon and Billy Joe Padden.

He is not the first retired rugby player to try his hand at inter-county football. Eric Miller played for a Dublin development team against Louth in 2006.

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