Mayo handed attacking boost as former underage star returns from Australia
A potential lift for two Connacht SFC teams emerged yesterday with confirmation that Jamie Clarke has committed to playing with New York and Cian Hanley is returning home to Mayo after a four-year spell with AFL club Brisbane Lions.
The Irish Independent understands that Hanley, an All-Ireland minor winner in 2013, could be back as early as this weekend, offering Mayo manager Stephen Rochford another potential attacking recruit.
Hanley, younger brother of Pearce, who has established himself as one of the most successful Irish AFL recruits, had his progress hampered by injury having sustained a cruciate ligament injury in that 2013 campaign.
Clarke has been training with the Exiles in recent weeks as they prepare for their May 6 meeting with Leitrim in Gaelic Park.
His presence is a big lift for manager Justin O'Halloran who confirmed that the Crossmaglen man has been on board.
"Jamie is with us. We've been training for the last few weeks after taking a break for Christmas," said O'Halloran, who has been in charge for the last two campaigns that have seen them come close to toppling Roscommon and Sligo.
Clarke was linked to New York two years ago but it never materialised. Instead, he came back to Ireland at the end of 2016 and made a big push with Armagh.
However, the travel bug bit again, eventually taking him back to New York where, this time it seems, he will feature.
O'Halloran has praised the commitment of his squad since they returned to pursue that elusive win in Connacht.
However, the strong squad they assembled for last year's Sligo game has fragmented with players like Ross Wherity (Donegal), Keith Quinn (Down), Danny Sutcliffe (Dublin) and Conor McGraynor (Wicklow) returning home.
Meanwhile, Diarmuid Connolly has returned to Dublin training and while he is not expected to feature against Donegal this weekend, a March return is likely.