Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly in line to feature against Mayo this weekend
DIARMUID Connolly could be in contention to see his first action of the inter-county season when Dublin travel to Castlebar to play Mayo on Saturday evening (7.0).
Connolly played the full game for St Vincent’s in their AFL1 victory over St Sylvester’s in Malahide last Sunday morning, his first competitive appearance since the club’s Leinster quarter-final loss to Rathnew on November 12.
Having nursed a couple of injuries in the off-season, Connolly rejoined the Dublin squad later than usual this year. Speaking after Dublin’s last victory over Donegal two weeks ago, however, Gavin revealed that Connolly was “training away with the squad and partaking in team meetings.”
After such a frustrating 2017, it would be understandable that both Connolly and Gavin are eager for the player to experience inter-county game time as quickly as possible.
His 2017 championship campaign consisted of a below-par performance against Carlow in the Leinster SFC - the match after which Connolly was suspended for 12 weeks - four minutes of Dublin’s All-Ireland semi-final victory over Tyrone and an influential second half appearance in the All-Ireland final victory over Mayo.
He went on to captain Vincent’s to a fourth Dublin SFC title in five years but the club’s bid to retain their Leinster crown was surprisingly halted in Aughrim.
Meanwhile, Colm Basquel, who scored 0-4 (1f) against Donegal in Croke Park two Saturdays back, played no part in Ballyboden St Enda’s big league win over Ballymun Kickhams on Sunday.
Basquel has played in each of Dublin’s three league games so far this year, starting against Kildare and Donegal and providing an influential late cameo against Tyrone in Omagh, where he kicked three points and set up a goal for Eoghan O’Gara.
Eoin Murchan - who has yet to feature in this year’s league - sat out both UCD’s Sigerson Cup semi-final victory over Jordanstown and their final success against NUIG.
Of the 21 players used by Gavin in last year’s All-Ireland final, 16 have seen league action this year.
Of the five remaining, Jack McCaffrey (cruciate) and Con O’Callaghan (club-tied) are unlikely to play this spring while Connolly, Paul Flynn, Cormac Costello could all be in line to play some part in Castlebar this Saturday night.