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What's in store for Seanie?

QUESTIONS, questions. Football's least enduring soap opera reaches its dramatic peak on Sunday with plenty of mystery still shrouding its conclusion.

Will he play? Will Kildare need him? Will Kieran McGeeney expose him to the jeers of his own people if his unique services are required?

How will the locals react? And how will the Cavan players greet their former captain?

The messiest transfer saga in GAA history may thankfully be complete but there remains one more massive obstacle in everyone forgetting about Seánie Johnston.

Having received a clean bill of health following a reported shoulder injury, the focus on Johnston is more acute this week in the prelude to Sunday's trip back to Cavan than it was at any stage during the transfer to-ing and fro-ing.

Dutifully, Cavan manager Terry Hyland, whilst acknowledging that a rapturous welcome was highly unlikely on Sunday, was equally adamant this week when questioned that Johnston be shown respect.

"He is a human being and he needs to be treated as such," he is quoted as saying. "A lot of what we have seen written and has been said about this has been overboard."

Nobody's holding their breath, though. The sides have become so entrenched at this point, there is no going back.

Was there ever?

Hyland's efforts to dissuade Johnston from leaving after assuming Cavan office remain a secret outside his obligatory and cautious statement about leaving doors open.

And even if Johnston did have second thoughts after Hyland's arrival, it was virtually impossible for the player to perform a U-turn, given he had already stated publicly his intentions to leave, officially applied for a transfer, appealed against its rejection and jumped through all shapes and sizes of hoops to ensure its completion.

A man who found himself in an almost identical position to Hyland is John Kearns who, in 2008, took over -- albeit briefly -- as Carlow manager soon after the hugely controversial transfer of Thomas Walsh to Wicklow, a move which riled the locals to similarly lofty levels to those in Cavan have attained recently.

"Most of the frustration would have been vented by the supporters than the fellow players," Kearns says now.

"The players just wanted to get on with it. The players were more disappointed than anything else. Whereas the supporters would have been far angrier and thicker over certain things."

Playing against former team-mates is not a rarity, but Johnston's circumstances are.

Last February when, on the occasion of his League debut for the Dublin hurlers, Ryan O'Dwyer found himself lining out against his former Tipperary comrades in Croke Park and took a bit of flak for his troubles.

"I have no real enemies on the Tipp panel," he told the Herald in an interview a couple of days after the match. "But there was one lad I never really got on with and he's the one that said it. I was fouled at one stage and a couple of seconds later he came in and gave me a shoulder and said to me: 'Pride in the jersey. Pride in the jersey'. "I thought 'what gives you the right to say that to me, ye b******s'. "It's not as if I turned my back on Tipperary to go glory-hunting up to Dublin. I was off the Tipp panel. I was moving to Dublin, I hope to spend the rest of my life in Dublin. I was so accepted up here."

Hyland's measured and sympathetic words for Johnston might suggest a man who, after being given a five-year term as Cavan boss, would prefer to leave the pathway clear for a possible return some time in the future.

"When Thomas came back, it was largely forgotten," says Kearns about Walsh's repatriation in 2010. "To be fair, Seánie would be similar to Thomas in that he would have been one of the big players with Cavan. And you can go from zero to hero very quickly in any sport. If, for example, he was to go back to Cavan the next year and score 1-3 or 1-4 in an Ulster Championship match, I would imagine it would be soon forgotten."

First though, he must begin a career with the enemy in a place where he was once revered.