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Dublin: 3 °C Sunday 24 March, 2019

Massive blow for Westmeath as 2018 captain steps away to focus on college commitments

Meanwhile, Ray Connellan will not be rejoining the squad after recently finishing up with AFL side St Kilda.

Westmeath's John Heslin.
Westmeath's John Heslin.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

WESTMEATH FOOTBALLERS HAVE suffered a huge blow ahead of the new season following the news that John Heslin has decided to step away from the panel to focus on his college commitments.

Heslin, who was the team captain for the 2018 season, has informed the new manager Jack Cooney that he is concentrating on his PhD studies at the moment.

“I can appreciate that it takes a massive amount of time and dedication to complete a PhD and nobody is going to put on any additional pressure on John given the circumstances,” Cooney told The Westmeath Independent.

Heslin could make a return to the squad after he has completed his PhD and Cooney says that the St Loman’s star is welcome to come back “if things change for him.”

Meanwhile, Westmeath will also be without the services of Ray Connellan in 2019, as he is set to return to Australia after his time with AFL side St Kilda came to an end earlier this year.

Ray Connellan Ray Connellan in action for Westmeath in 2016. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The42 understands that Connellan played a few matches with his club Athlone after his contract finished up with St Kilda, and is hoping to return to Australia in the new year.

Connellan spent the past two seasons with the Melbourne-based club, having joined them when he signed a two-year contract in July 2016. However, the club opted not to hand him a new contract.

He previously lined out for St Kilda’s affiliate club Sandringham in the Victorian Football League, along with making his first-team debut in February in the pre-season AFLX tournament.

“It’s only natural that he wants to return to Australia to pursue his career,” Cooney told the Westmeath Independent.

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