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'Diarmuid and I agreed that what was best was that he'd take a rest'

Jim Gavin is hopeful Diarmuid Connolly will rejoin the Dublin squad for the championship.

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

DUBLIN MANAGER JIM Gavin is hopeful Diarmuid Connolly will rejoin his squad before the start of the championship.

Jim Gavin with Diarmuid Connolly Jim Gavin with Diarmuid Connolly in 2017 Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It was reported in the Sunday Times yesterday that the two-time All-Star is taking a complete break from the game and has stepped away from the Dublin squad.

“Connolly has other priorities at the moment outside of football and that’s where his focus currently lies,” Christy O’Connor wrote. He added that Connolly is unlikely to even feature for St Vincent’s in club football or hurling championship this month.

While Gavin didn’t confirm the report, responding “that’s news to me”, he did say it was agreed between himself and Connolly that the 30-year-old would “take a rest.”

“His status at the moment is that both Diarmuid and I agreed that what was best was that he would take a rest over these games,” Gavin stated after Dublin’s league final success over Galway.

Diarmuid Connolly Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“He has had a long number of years playing senior inter-county football, as have a lot of this group, and that decision was made in his best interests.”

When he was asked if he was hopeful Connolly would return in time for the provincial campaign, Gavin responded: “Please God.”

Dublin have a number of players absent through injury and James McCarthy left the fray in the opening half after picking up what looked to be a hamstring injury.

“I don’t actually know,” Gavin said on McCarthy’s injury.

“He limped off but hopefully he will be back for Ballymun in two weeks’ time.”

There was more solid news about the fitness of All-Star defenders Cian O’Sullivan and Jack McCaffrey.

“Cian had a procedure on his shoulder three weeks ago,” Gavin said on O’Sullivan.

“He is resting, he is in great form, Unfortunately for his club (this month) he won’t make it back, but he will certainly be back for championship that is for sure.”

Cian O'Sullivan goes off injured Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“It’s very positive news (on Jack). He’s back (running) on the grass again. That’s really positive. He’s being very diligent with it. He’s in great shape. Mentally, as bubbly as ever. He’s looking forward to the championship.”

Con O’Callaghan made a surprise return to county action just eight days after he won his second All-Ireland club hurling medal with Cuala. O’Callaghan was not listed on the match programme but came on in the 54th minute to a rousing reception.

Gavin confirmed that the Young Footballer of the Year resumed training with the panel “during the week.”

“We just had a conversation,” he said.

“If a player is that fortunate to have his club in a club campaign, I know Cuala have got two on the spin, but they’re unique occasions and we have so much respect for the clubs in Dublin because of the players they keep developing and we are the sum of our parts in Dublin GAA.

“So you just back off and there was no conversations at all over the last number of weeks, we just let him concentrate fully with his club. We just touched base with him earlier in the week and had a chat.

“Obviously he’s possibly fitter – we’ve done very little work in that regard – I’d say he’s a lot fitter than the current group of Dublin players and he was just keen to go. So great to have him back.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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