PAUL MANNION HAS quashed rumours that former full-back Rory O’Carroll will return to the Dublin set-up for their ‘drive for five’ in 2019. 

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

O’Carroll won three All-Irelands, two All-Stars and represented Ireland in the International Rules series before he packed his bags and headed for New Zealand in 2016.

His return to Dublin in recent weeks sparked talk that O’Carroll might be home for good, but his Kilmacud Crokes clubmate Mannion says the defender is only back for a wedding and will be returning to the southern hemisphere shortly.

“He was just back for a wedding last weekend,” says Mannion. “He’s going back off to Australia now next week or the week after.”

Crokes face St Sylvester’s this weekend in the Dublin SFC quarter-final, but Mannion doesn’t expect his old county team-mate to move home “any time soon.” 

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“Maybe next year at some stage, I think,” he continued. “I don’t think football is at the front of his mind now. We’d love to have him back, especially with Crokes. 

“I don’t know what match fitness or shape he’s in at the moment, whether he’s match fit or not. No, I don’t think he was looking to line out anyway.

“He doesn’t talk much, so I don’t know myself exactly what he’s doing. Last I heard he was working in a female prison as, I’m not sure, not a prison officer, but doing social work there. 

“You’d probably get more out of him than me. He’s loving it down there. He doesn’t tell us much. I think he was playing football for a while but he’s obviously just enjoying himself.”

Dublin footballer Paul Mannion was at AIG Insurance’s head office in Dublin today to mark Dublin’s All-Ireland wins. AIG’s chosen charity for 2018, Aoibheann’s Pink Tie, also joined in the celebrations and were presented with a signed Dublin GAA jersey.

Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

In Mannion’s debut year at senior club level as an 18-year-old in 2012, Kilmacud made it to the county final, but they haven’t been back since. Now aged 25, he’s one of the leaders on the team and hoping they can lift the crown for the first time since 2010.

“There are expectations there from the teams in the noughties that picked up a number of championships then. There’s still a lot of that team remaining. We’ve got a nice balance of experience and a lot of young lads coming through as well. 

“Definitely think we’ve got the team. Just probably have come up against some strong opposition in the last couple of years that are maybe a few steps ahead of us in development. 

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“Look, we’re just trying to learn every year and the lads I think have picked up bits and pieces from those losses and hopefully we can just turn it into something good for this year. 

“I was only 18 when I first started playing. Now I’m now in the older third of the players on the team. You get older and get more experience and you slip into a leadership role in the team.

“It’s nice and I like doing it as well. There’s young and old leaders on that team with Crokes and Dublin so it doesn’t need to always be the older experienced guys.”

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A five-time All-Ireland winner, Mannion looks on the verge of picking up his second All-Star later this winter after putting in another fine season.

He dispatched a crucial first-half penalty in the final win over Tyrone, which was satisfying personally given his missed spot-kick in the Leinster final. 

“There was a bit of relief,” he says. “I practiced a lot of that since the one I missed in the Leinster final. I was probably a lot more calm in the (All-Ireland) final than I was in the Leinster final.

“That was the first penalty I’d taken for Dublin. I’d still been practicing them a bit beforehand as well. When this one came around I was actually a lot more calm and just focusing on how I wanted to strike the ball and the part of the foot I wanted the ball to come off, body position and all these kind of things were running through my head.

“I was just reaffirming myself as well I guess and that’s it, I just followed through.”

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