Monday 20 November 2017

Dolan closes door on return to Westmeath after missing challenge tie

Cliona Foley and Colm Keys

Dessie Dolan has almost certainly played his last game of football for Westmeath.

The Garrycastle man has declined an invitation to return to the county squad and there is acceptance now that he has closed the door on his inter-county career.

At 32 he still starred for Garrycastle in their historic run to this year's All-Ireland Club final against Armagh superclub Crossmaglen Rangers, whom they took to a replay.

But expectations that he would return to training last week and play in a challenge match against Meath yesterday were dashed.

Several of his club teammates -- his first cousin James Dolan, Mark McCallon, John Gaffey and Doran Harte - have since returned to the inter-county squad.

It is understood that Dolan was approached by county manager Pat Flanagan recently but expressed a wish to still remain on his current break from inter-county football.

That definitely rules him out of Westmeath's championship opener against Louth in Navan on May 20) and has fuelled speculation that he is unlikely to line out for the county again.

Dolan was uncontactable yesterday when Westmeath, fielding a very experimental team, lost that challenge match to arch-rivals Meath in Boardsmill.

Defensive ace Kieran Gavin was not involved and is already a serious doubt for the Louth game, struggling to recover from the thigh injury that kept him out of the late stages of the league.

There has been speculation that dual stars Paul Greville and Francis Boyle are about to return for the footballers despite lining out exclusively with the county hurlers this year -- but that has been ruled out by Westmeath hurling manager Brian Hanley.

Boyle recently lined out in a practice match with the footballers but Hanley said afterwards that he understood this was only to help make up numbers.

"We're playing Antrim in the Leinster championship the day before the footballers are playing Louth and I don't know how anyone could be expected to play in both of those games," Hanley said. "It just wouldn't work."

Irish Independent

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