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Published: 01:25 | 12/2/18

Gavin hints at Connolly return

Dublin manager Jim Gavin says "it's a possibility" that forward Diarmuid Connolly could feature for the All-Ireland champions against Mayo in the next round of Allianz Leagues fixtures.

Connolly was suspended for 12 weeks of the Championship summer last season, but returned to play the second-half of the 1-17 to 1-16 All-Ireland victory over Mayo at Croke Park on 17 September.

The 30-year-old has not featured in any of the Sky Blues' three Division 1 wins over Kildare, Tyrone and Donegal, but Gavin says the St Vincent's clubman remains a valued member of the squad.

"He’s training away with the squad and attending team meetings,” Gavin told the Irish Examiner.

And, when asked if Connolly could feature against Mayo, he replied: "It's a possibility."

Connolly represented Dublin at hurling at underage level up to the Under-21s, and still plays for St. Vincent's in the Dublin Senior Hurling Championship, but said in October that he had no intention of switching codes to play for Pat Gilroy's team.

"I think that ship has sailed," he told eir Sport.

Connolly's return may be hastened by a possible cruciate ligament injury to fellow five-time Celtic Cross winner Bernard Brogan.

The Evening Herald reports the 33-year-old forward, who was named in the team to face Donegal on Saturday night, suffered the injury in training.

Gavin was pleased by the performances of fringe players Colm Basquel, Brian Howard and Niall Scully, and the five substitutes who came off the bench in Saturday's 0-20 to 0-15 Allianz Leagues Division 1 victory over Donegal at Croke Park.

"I thought Colm, Brian Howard and Niall really played for the team, winning the ball and laying it off for the man in the best position, that’s what they're good at," Gavin told the Irish Examiner. 

"It's what we saw with their clubs last season and that's the form they're carrying through.

"The players who came on, Ciaran Reddin, Paddy Small, Eoghan O'Gara, Dean Rock and Cian O'Sullivan, they all played their part for the team and that’s their collective strength."

eir Sport has live and exclusive coverage of 17 Saturday matches in the 2018 Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues. Coverage continues on Saturday, 17 February with 2016 All-Ireland winners Tipperary hosting Wexford at Semple Stadium in hurling's Division 1A [live on eir Sport 2, throw in 7pm], and Limerick facing Dublin at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick in Division 1B [live on eir Sport 1, throw-in 7pm].

Image: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

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