Gavin: Door will always be open for Connolly

Jim Gavin and Diarmuid Connolly.

Jim Gavin has confirmed that he remains in regular contact with Diarmuid Connolly but the Dublin manager hasn’t shed any light on whether the two-time All Star will be returning to the field of play any time soon.

Connolly has featured just once for Dublin this year, as a substitute against Mayo back in February. He has not been lining out for his club St Vincent’s either, despite suggestions at the time that he would play a part against Skerries Harps in last month’s championship opener.

“Well, the situation is that Diarmuid just hasn’t been available to play club football, in the championship, football and hurling with his club, and with the county as well,” said Gavin.

“We respect that position, and hopefully everyone does as well.

It is an amateur sport but, that said, the door will always be open for Diarmuid and I know that for sure with the club and also the county and hopefully we’ll see him back playing Gaelic games soon.

Gavin’s mantra has never wavered amidst all this Connolly talk and accompanying speculation: Dublin will keep on keeping on with the players they have.

Even better is the news that Paul Flynn, Jack McCaffrey and Cian O’Sullivan are all nearing full fitness again after injuries. Flynn actually lined out for Fingallians over the weekend just passed.

Jim Gavin: ‘We don’t count success about medals. My drive is to get a group of players who want to represent Dublin.’Picture: Inpho

Bernard Brogan is a long way further back than those three but word is that the former Footballer of the Year is targeting a return to the county scene before the season’s end despite surgery earlier in the year on a ruptured ACL.

“Yeah, he’s on track, doing a lot of work, a big medical team behind him,” said Gavin. “Professionally, business is going very well, family life is going well, and first and foremost he’s healthy. He’ll definitely be back playing football, that’s for sure.

“Another determined young man but whether that’s in a Dublin jersey this year I don’t know because I don’t know what journey we’ll be on or where it will end. All he can do is get back playing football. Will that coincide with a Dublin jersey this summer, I just don’t know.”

This was all vintage Gavin as he spoke at the launch of the Leinster Football Championship in Trim yesterday. Respectful, courteous, considerate with his time and all without giving away anything of great interest or note.

At yesterday’s launch of the Leinster SFC at Trim Castle, Co. Meath were: Meath’s Bryan Menton; Westmeath’s John Heslin; Longford’s Paddy Collum; Dublin’s Michael Fitzsimons; Offaly’s Anton Sullivan; Wexford’s Naomhan Rossiter; Carlow’s John Murphy; Laois’ John O’Loughlin; Kildare’s Eoin Doyle; Wicklow’s Seanie Furlong and Louth’s Andy McDonnell. Picture: Inpho/James Crombie

The GAA’s army of volunteers was praised, the Dublin county board, too.

Dublin’s accumulation of silverware was all but dismissed as secondary to the process of maximising everyone’s individual talents. ‘Bits of tin’ was a phrase used at one point.

“We don’t count success, genuinely, about medals. My drive is just to get a group of players who want to represent Dublin. They need to make that choice because there is a lot of sacrifice to be made.

A lot of commitment, a lot of family events to be missed by committing to your sport. My mandate and remit is to get those guys to be the very best. During our time with the 21s, we set out the exact same way.

Dublin’s quest for a fourth successive All-Ireland title will begin later this month, against either Offaly or Wicklow, but who knows how long they can stay at the top and how long their current manager will be the one striving to keep them there.

“I don’t know,” Gavin said himself. “As long as … I don’t have any plan in that regard. At the end of each year, I will review it with the county board and see, one, do they want me, and then if I have the energy for it.

“If I have the space in my calendar to do it and if they are happy with it we will do it. There is no long-term strategy, no three-year plan that other counties might have. “It is all about the here and now, what you can do with the team right now.

“For me it is all about getting those boys to be their best and if I can get them to be their best against Wicklow or Offaly, I have done my job.”

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