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Thursday 22 November 2018

'Great to see Diarmuid back in action', says Dubs legend Whelan

Sean Cavanagh, Colm Cooper and Ciaran Whelan. Photo: Donall Farmer
Sean Cavanagh, Colm Cooper and Ciaran Whelan. Photo: Donall Farmer

Dublin legend Ciaran Whelan has expressed his delight to see Diarmuid Connolly's surprise return to his local club.

Last week, the talismanic forward made a return to competitive action with the hurlers of St Vincent's.

However, Connolly hasn't played football for Dublin since being used as a second-half substitute in their league victory over Mayo in Castlebar on February 24.

Former GAA player Ciaran Whelan told the Herald that it was great to see him back on the pitch.

"It's obviously good for Diarmuid to be back playing hurling. He's achieved a hell of a lot in the game at both club and county level," he said.

Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly celebrates at the final whistle in the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin last year. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly celebrates at the final whistle in the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin last year. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

"And if he wants a bit of time off we all have to respect that decision.

"The ethos of GAA is amateur - it's a huge commitment and the players are giving up a great deal of personal time.

"Diarmuid has been involved in the Dublin squad for about 10 years and had so much success to date, so if the man wants a bit of downtime we just have to respect that," he said.

Mr Whelan added that he would personally love to see Diarmuid back in his county colours.

"Nobody knows if he'll come back full-time, that's up to him. If the time is right and he feels he has the appetite for the game I'm sure we'll see him back."

The GAA legend was speaking at the launch of RTE's 2018 GAA Championships coverage.

The Sunday Game Live will see Michael Lyster anchoring a comprehensive package of 31 live games across this summer's GAA Championships.

Revamped

Both the hurling and football championships have been revamped this year, with the Munster and Leinster hurling championships now involving a round-robin format.

RTE will show seven games from the Munster SHC and three from the Leinster equivalent.

The football championship sees the introduction of the Super 8s series, with the last eight remaining in the race for Sam Maguire being drawn into two groups, with the top two in each group advancing to the last four.

Their coverage begins on May 13 with the double-header of Dublin v Kilkenny in the Leinster SHC and the eagerly anticipated clash between last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists Mayo and arch-rivals Galway.

In February, RTE announced that Joanne Cantwell will anchor The Sunday Game Live following Michael Lyster's retirement at the end of the 2018 GAA Championship, where he has spent 34 years at the helm.

Former Dublin footballer Cantwell joined RTE in 2007, and has worked across numerous sports programmes on television and radio.

When she was appointed she said she was delighted to take up the anchor position on such an iconic show.

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