Tuesday 20 August 2019

Diarmuid Connolly's Dublin exile over as he is named on bench for Tyrone clash in Omagh

Diarmuid Connolly hasn't played for Dublin since February 2018. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Diarmuid Connolly hasn't played for Dublin since February 2018. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Tony Considine and Sean McGoldrick

Diarmuid Connolly's exile from the Dublin matchday panel appears to be over with the St Vincent's man named in Jim Gavin's squad to play Tyrone in Omagh this Sunday.

A picture of the team sheet from Sunday's match programme began to circulate online late on Friday night showing Connolly named on the bench with the number 20 shirt allocated to him. Brenard Brogan is also named in the substitutes.

It's a much changed Dublin team with Rory O'Carroll also returning for his first start since his return from New Zealand. Davy Byrne is named at full-back with Eoin Murchan and Robert McDaid come into the half-back line.

Eric Lowndes named at right half-forward with Cormac Costello at centre-forward and old-stagers Kevin McManamon and Eoghan O’Gara are included up front.

If Connolly gets a run, it'll be his first game since the Allianz League victory over Mayo in 2018. His last Championship appearance came in the 2017 All-Ireland final when his appearance off the becnh was pivotal in helping Dublin secure the third of their four-in-a-row.

Connolly spent last summer playing for Donegal Boston in the United States. He had been due to do the same this year but an issue with Connolly’s visa saw the player prevented from travelling due to a "small problem" with his ESTA visa.

Mickey Harte has also rung the changes with all 15 of his starting team for the win over Cork rested.

Most of the other first team players are listed to be on the bench, but unless Harte is attempting a double bluff then the only familiar faces in his team will be defenders Padraig Hampsey – who lost his place after the team's defeat to Donegal – and Tiernan McCann, who served a two-match ban after an incident in the same game.

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The winners of tomorrow's match have six-day turnaround before they meet the runners-up in Group 1 in the first of the All-Ireland semi-finals next Saturday.

The losers have an extra day to prepare although theoretically they will have a tougher assignment against the Group 1 winners.

Though Harte is perfectly entitled to field a second-string team, the whole affair is certain to cast further doubt on the future of the Super 8's as tomorrow's other game in Group 2 between Cork and Roscommon is a dead rubber.

The scheduling of matches in the series was tweaked this year with the provincial champions having home advantage in the first round. But this has actually increased the likelihood of the groups being effectively decided after two rounds.

Delegates at next spring's GAA Congress are due to decide whether the Super 8 structure will be retained beyond its initial three-year experimental period which ends after the 2020 championship.

Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Rory O’Carroll, Davy Byrne, Philly McMahon; Eoin Murchan, Jonny Cooper, Robert McDaid; Brian Fenton, James McCarthy; Eric Lowndes, Cormac Costello, Brian Howard; Kevin McManamon, Eoghan O’Gara, Con O’Callaghan.

Tyrone: Benny Gallen; Ciarán McLaughlin, Pádraig Hampsey, Liam Rafferty; Tiarnan McCann, Aidan McCrory, Michael Cassidy; Ben McDonnell, Declan McClure; Richard Donnelly, Kyle Coney, Conan Grugan; David Mulgrew, Connor McAliskey, Conall McCann.

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