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dessie dilemma All-Ireland champions Dublin dealt a massive blow as Paul Mannion quits panel

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Paul Mannion, pictured celebrating with Philip McMahon and Brian Howard, has quit the Dublin panel

Paul Mannion, pictured celebrating with Philip McMahon and Brian Howard, has quit the Dublin panel

Paul Mannion, pictured celebrating with Philip McMahon and Brian Howard, has quit the Dublin panel

PAUL Mannion, the 27-year-old, six-time All-Ireland winner, has opted out of the Dublin panel for 2021.

Mannion has followed long-time team-mate Jack McCaffrey’s lead in withdrawing from inter-county activity at the peak of his career.

The Kilmacud Crokes forward was the only footballer to win three consecutive Allstars over the 2017 to 2019 period, the final three years of Jim Gavin’s managerial reign.

But he was restricted to a role off the bench under Dessie Farrell in the truncated 2020 championship campaign, with Paddy Small preferred in a starting role.

When introduced against Mayo in the final, Mannion scored a towering free from under the Hogan Stand after 60 minutes, to fire Dublin four points clear.

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Paul Mannion has followed former team-mate Jack McCaffrey's lead

Paul Mannion has followed former team-mate Jack McCaffrey's lead

Paul Mannion has followed former team-mate Jack McCaffrey's lead

Deploying electrifying speed, a cultured left foot and an exceptional tackling technique, Mannion established himself among the marquee forwards in the nation as Dublin hurtled to an historic five-in-a-row under Gavin.

He previously opted out of the 2015 season to spend a year studying in China.

Mannion made his Dublin debut against Cork in 2013 – a game in which he was knocked out after colliding with the hip of team-mate Paul Flynn.

His decision to take time out comes hot on the heels of the retirement of 2013 Footballer of the Year Michael Darragh Macauley.

Mannion’s big game temperament is evident in his All-Ireland final returns.

He scored 0-3 against Mayo in 2017, hit 1-1 in the 2018 victory over Tyrone and fired a total of six points in the drawn 2019 All-Ireland final and replay victory over Kerry.

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