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Duffy And O’Connor To Rejoin Connacht

Duffy And O’Connor To Rejoin Connacht

Ireland internationals Gavin Duffy and Johnny O’Connor have agreed to rejoin Connacht, their former province, with Mayo man Duffy to start back training with Michael Bradley’s side on Monday.

With an eye on next season, Bradley has considerably beefed up his squad with Duffy and O’Connor returning home from stints in England with NEC Harlequins and London Wasps respectively.

Both players left Connacht for London in the summer of 2003. O’Connor will be returning on a two-year deal for the start of next season, but Duffy’s return is more immediate – he will be back training with the westerners on Monday and will be available for selection for the Magners League clash against Leinster on March 23.

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The 25 year-old Duffy, who pens a column in the Mayo News, will also be staying with Connacht until the summer of 2009 at least.

Duffy left Connacht in 2003, going on to win the first of his four caps for Ireland the following summer on the tour to South Africa. He picked up two more caps on the 2005 summer tour to Japan and in between, he scored a try when introduced against Scotland in the Six Nations at Murrayfield in February two years ago.

The highlight of his three and a half years with Harlequins came in May 2004 when he scored a try as the Londoners defeated Montferrand in the final of the Parker Pen European Challenge Cup. He stayed with Harlequins when they were relegated from the English Premiership, and has not managed to add to his four Irish caps since then.

Connacht CEO Gerry Kelly said that the return of Duffy, along with that of O’Connor, was a huge boost to the province.

“We are delighted to have Gavin back as we continue to strengthen our side. He is a quality player and I hope his return to Connacht will help him become part of the Irish World Cup squad for later in the year,” said Kelly.

Duffy, who played at midfield in the Mayo team defeated 1-14 to 0-14 by Down in the 1999 All-Ireland minor final, played 20 times for Connacht before moving to Harlequins where he scored 21 tries in 92 appearances.

Duffy said that he was delighted to be going back to Connacht after several good seasons with Harlequins.

“t is a new challenge and one that I am looking forward to. I have kept in touch with a lot of the lads since I left and it will be great to wear the green again.

“My first priority will be to secure a place and start playing regularly and well, and hopefully that might lead to getting back into the international set-up,” Duffy commented.

“But performing for Connacht will be my top priority. Anything after that is a bonus.”