Saturday 20 July 2019

Dublin handed big boost ahead of five in-a-row bid as All Star Rory O'Carroll rejoins panel

Rory O'Carroll. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Rory O'Carroll. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Rory O'Carroll has returned to the Dublin football team as they resume preparations for a historic five-in-a-row All-Ireland title bid.

O'Carroll was due to join colleagues for a gym session last night and will be back out on the pitch this week for Dublin's four-week run-in to a Leinster quarter-final with Louth or Wexford.

The three-time All-Ireland winner has not been involved with Dublin for the last three seasons, opting to spend time travelling and working in New Zealand.

He only returned home in early March, playing two championship games for Kilmacud Crokes against Ballymun Kickhams and Na Fianna in recent weeks, but has now accepted an invitation to rejoin the squad, informing his club of his intention to do so over the weekend.

It's still unclear if Diarmuid Connolly, who has been in action with St Vincent's in recent weeks, will return, however.

O'Carroll last played for Dublin in the 2015 All-Ireland final against Kerry.

His recall, while anticipated in recent weeks, still represents a risk for a specialist player like him, having been away from the inter-county game for so long.

But Dublin boast plenty of cover in the full-back line and he's unlikely to be pressed into action in haste.

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Dublin were one of the few counties to give their clubs exclusive access to their players during April, which has been stripped of inter-county games for that very purpose.

Dublin players have been with their clubs for the last four weeks.

Elsewhere, Mattie Donnelly said he believes the best has yet to come in his new attacking role with Tyrone.

The Red Hand skipper proved supremely effective as an inside forward during the League.

The 'offensive mark' rule helped the Trillick man and strike partner Cathal McShane revel as target men as Tyrone unleashed a new long ball strategy.

The 'mark' will not be in operation in the Championship, but Donnelly is set to remain in the most advanced line of attack.

"It's still a work in progress," he said.

"We had the conversation in the middle of the league this year that I could add value in a more advanced role, closer to Cathal.

"It was working well in training, and it was just about taking that into matches.

"The value you're adding in a more advanced role is always more noticeable than the value you might be adding at the other end of the pitch."

Irish Independent

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