Gavin leaves door open for Connolly return
Star forward yet to rejoin Dublin – but boss would ‘love’ to see him back
Jim Gavin has confirmed that Diarmuid Connolly isn't currently part of the Dublin set-up. However, the Sky Blues boss has given the clearest hint yet that the St Vincent's man could still have a place in his plans as they chase an All-Ireland five-in-a-row.
"We've gone to war with Diarmuid on the playing field over many, many years. Of course, Dublin supporters and myself would love to see him back," Gavin told Newstalk.
The Dublin manager was speaking at the launch of the Leinster football and hurling championships in Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnell yesterday.
It has been a busy week of comings and goings in the Dublin football set-up, with the return of full-back Rory O'Carroll to the squad and the retirement of six-time All-Ireland winner, Paul Flynn.
"From Paul's perspective, it's my job and the job of the management team to create that environment where they can excel. But a player needs to make that choice, if this is the right thing for the player," said Gavin of the retirement of the Fingallians man.
"We've had instances in the past where players have decided to pursue other activities," he continued. "Rory would be a good example of that, and when they come back we've also held an open-door policy.
"And if a player comes back and he is performing well with the club - and we've watched a number of games where he was - he'll be invited back in."
Gavin went on to praise the legacy left by Flynn after his stellar career in blue that spanned 12 years.
"Paul obviously made the decision - we'll miss him - but he made the decision that, for him, the right thing to do was to bring a close to his inter-county career," he continued.
"That's his choice and we respect that. I would hope everybody else does as well, because the sport we're in, it's a volunteer sport and they give a lot and Paul, in particular, has given a huge amount to Dublin football.
"The biggest compliment I can pay him is that any time he got the privilege to wear the sky blue jersey, he left everything on the field for the betterment of the team.
"What a great legacy to leave and what a great example to leave for the 2019 team to follow."
Gavin confirmed that O'Carroll has returned to the set-up in good physical shape. The Kilmacud Crokes man spent the past three years in New Zealand and hasn't played for Dublin since the 2015 All-Ireland final.
"That's a testament to an athlete and a player who is focused on what he wants, who is very ambitious, understands the athletic demands that are placed on inter-county footballers and who has obviously worked hard on that on his own time.
"So, that's the first step for any player who has been brought into the squad. The next step is to fight for a jersey," Gavin added.