Mayo manager James Horan has thrown a wildcard into the mix this week, with the news that former Ireland and Connacht rugby player Gavin Duffy has joined up with the Mayo senior football squad. Duffy who was a Mayo minor star on the team that lost the 1999 All Ireland minor final was recently released by Connacht after his second stint with the province where he played 173 games scoring 83 points. His period at Connacht was interrupted by a spell in England with Harlequins from 2003 to 2006 where he played 110 times and won the Challenger Cup in 2004 scoring a try in their final win over AS Montferrand. Duffy played ten times for Ireland over his rugby career scoring 18 points, getting his first try in his second cap against Scotland in the 2005 six nations. He was also part of Eddie O’Sullivan’s squad for the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
The 32-year-old Ballina man joined up with the Mayo team for training on Tuesday night and will train with the squad for a couple of weeks at least. James Horan said in a statement from the Mayo GAA county board on Wednesday night that “Gavin Duffy was invited down to join up with the squad for a couple of weeks where the management will have a look at him to see where he is at. “He also said that Duffy is a "professional athlete who brings great leadership and a presence to the squad."
Aiden McLoughlin, PRO for the county board in the same statement said, “Gavin Duffy has always claimed that he would love to play with his county and has previously lined out with the Mayo minor football team. The Mayo county board are delighted to see a player of the calibre of Gavin Duffy linked with the Mayo senior football team and hopefully will remain a permanent presence in the Mayo Senior Football Team set-up.”
Duffy’s last game for Mayo in the All Ireland minor final in 1999, saw them lose out to Down on a score of 1-14 to 0-14. That Mayo minor team featured current Mayo player Alan Dillon in the full forward line alongside the likes of Billy Joe Padden, Pat Kelly, James Gill and Conor Moran who all went on to play for the Mayo senior team in the years after.