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Monday 18 December 2017

Heslin can see why Oz didn't 'rule' for Dubs

John Heslin of St Loman’s. Photo: Sportsfile
John Heslin of St Loman’s. Photo: Sportsfile

John Heslin has questioned some of the criticism directed at Dublin footballers for their non-involvement in this year's International Rules tour.

The Westmeath star didn't feature in Australia and not just because of St Loman's involvement in the AIB Leinster club SFC - they host Simonstown in Sunday's semi-final.

"I wouldn't have been able to go either because I didn't get asked!" explained Heslin, who has previously 'trialled' twice for Ireland without making the final cut.

This year, that opportunity never arose but Heslin has no complaints on that score. The one-time Aussie Rules recruit hasn't ruled out playing for Ireland, something he rates as a "huge honour", but he can understand why no Dubs were involved this year.

"The club I was with, Richmond Tigers, won the AFL this year," he pointed out. "Just for the record, none of their players played either .. and no media man has highlighted that.

"They took their time off and celebrated their win and went around with the cup, as the Dublin boys are at as well."

But should some of them have played? "Possibly yeah - it's up to themselves," he stressed.

"No more so than anyone gets asked to do anything. I was asked to come here today (to a Leinster GAA media event) and I said I'd come ... no one held a gun to my head.

"A lot of the Dublin players have probably done it before. They'd a long campaign. That's their three All-Irelands in a row. I think Jack McCaffrey made the point that a lot of them had club commitments.

"Only for the club you wouldn't be playing inter-county, and only for that you wouldn't have been given the opportunity to represent your country.

"So if your club are calling, you have to answer that call. A lot of the Dublin players did that. James McCarthy, Diarmuid Connolly and these lads, Philly McMahon, Dean Rock - they were all playing in a Dublin final.

"If you're training with Ireland on a Friday night, they're going to miss some (club) training. When you've so many commitments and so many people calling you … it's up to themselves, they obviously couldn't commit."

Heslin only saw five minutes of Saturday's second test before farm duties intervened. "The father called me out and said 'Don't be watching that stuff, you've to go and give me a hand!'" he explained.

As for missing out this year, he concluded: "I would have said at the start of the year that three in a row with the club, being captain as well, would have meant a lot more to me than going to Australia. I know people might say, 'Oh Jesus, you get to represent your country, it's fantastic' … and it is fantastic, and maybe another time I might get that opportunity."

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