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Thursday 8 December 2016

Kernan holds out hope for Connolly as Fenton ruled out for owing to shoulder surgery

St Vincent’s Diarmuid Connolly with Dylan O’Toole and his brother
Karl after the Marino club’s Dublin SFC semi-final victory over Na Fianna
St Vincent’s Diarmuid Connolly with Dylan O’Toole and his brother Karl after the Marino club’s Dublin SFC semi-final victory over Na Fianna

Joe Kernan remains hopeful that Diarmuid Connolly will play for Ireland in this year's International Rules Series.

Connolly, who captains St Vincent's in Sunday's Dublin SFC final against Ballyboden, has not been part of any of the Ireland training sessions conducted thus far, though he has had discussions with both Kernan and team captain, Bernard Brogan, and both have indicated that he is interested in playing in what would be his first International Rules involvement.

Essentially, it appears that Connolly participation hinges on Vincent's progress over the coming weeks.

Should they win on Sunday, Vincent's will play Louth champions St Patrick's in the Leinster club SFC quarter-final on November 8 where a victory would have them out again on November 22 in the provincial semi-final, a day after the only International Rules Test in Croke Park.

"We are leaving the door open as long as we can and hoping we can finalise the squad then," Kernan outlined.

No better

"A player of Diarmuid's quality would really suit this game because we want to kick the ball and there is no better player in the country at kicking the ball right or left than him and maybe throw in a few scores along with that.

"But he is captain of his club and it's a big commitment so we'll know in the next week or so."

Brogan outlined that he had spoken to Connolly and suggested that his involvement wouldn't necessarily be dictated by Sunday's result.

"I wouldn't say he will just say 'no' if they do win," Brogan stated.

"We'll just have to look at it. You have to be fair to everyone that has been training with Ireland as well, you can't just turn up on the day, you have to come in, learn the systems and learn the tactics as well."

One Dublin player who definitely won't be involved is All-Ireland final RTé Man of the Match, Brian Fenton.

The Raheny rookie had been part of an extended training squad, though he recently underwent surgery on his shoulder and won't play again this year.

"He thought it was okay and he played a club match," Kernan outlined.

"It's only minor but in fairness to his club and county - the boys are getting things sorted out now and they want it sorted before Christmas and that means they will be fully recovered for the new year and they are able to play with their county.

Kingpins

"You can plan for everything but you can't plan for injuries. It's a simple procedure but it knocked him away from us."

Jack McCaffrey and Philly McMahon have taken part in training and look set to make the final cut when Kernan settles on a playing panel in the coming weeks.

"In fairness to the clubs and the players we have worked with them and given boys time off but it is coming to the time now which will be our time to finalise the squad," Kernan added.

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