Every GAA club loves nothing more than to see former players returning to the fold – and when that player is two-time Six Nations Grand Slam winner Rob Kearney then that's even better.
The former Ireland player always maintained a strong connection with Louth club Cooley Kickhams during his professional rugby days and after his recent stint with Australian side Western Force officially came to an end last month, he indicated that a return to Gaelic football was on his radar.
That came to pass on Tuesday night as the 35-year-old took part in Kickham’s training - in full Cooley kit - for the first time since 2005 and club secretary Brian Rafferty said that he is determined to fight for a place on one of their two adult teams.
"He’s back training with the club," Rafferty said of the former Louth minor.
"Our seniors and juniors train together. We have 41 or 42 fellas that train together and then three coaches there to look after them.
"Rob is trying to give something back to the club. He felt that he always had to do that.
"He left when he was young but always supported the club and we have welcomed him back with open arms.
"He’s one of our own and he said that last night. Any time he was here he was always welcome at the club. He was straight into the fold and he’s taking it from there and he’s going to see how he gets on."
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Rafferty expects Kearney to quickly regain his sharpness despite his long absence from the sport and he hopes to see him return to competitive action in the very near future.
"He’s going to continue train and he’s hoping to play a bit. He’s like everyone else, he’ll fight for his place.
"He said he’s rusty and that he hasn’t held a Gaelic ball in his hands for 16 years.
"He ran around last night and after five minutes it was as if he was never away from us."
Kearney’s last significant GAA action was the 2004 Louth senior final when he scored a point as Cooley were edged out by a point by St Patrick’s.
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