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Wicklow revel in Mark Jackson presence amid wait on NFL fate

The Leinster Football Championship throws in this weekend and for a Wicklow side that was relegated to Allianz Football League Division 4, the good news is that their talented goalkeeper Mark Jackson is back – for the moment anyway – from his NFL kicking trials and rejoined the panel.

Along with Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan and Down's Charlie Smyth - the latter recently signing a three-year deal to become a kicker with the New Orleans Saints - Jackson was part of a trio of GAA players that tackled the recent NFL Combine, impressing scouts.

He has also signed with NFL agent Rob Roche, who manages the highest paid kicker in the league, Justin Tucker.

But while he awaits news on his future from the US, Jackson has been back home and a presence among his inter-county team-mates, with Wicklow and Blessington sharpshooter Kevin Quinn among those pleased to have him around as the panel prepare for Sunday's clash against Division 3 champions Westmeath in Portlaoise.

'It's something different to what I'm used to but it's a cool journey'
Rory Beggan and Mark Jackson among the Irish athletes preparing themsevles ahead of NFL trials@LawlorDamian reports from Abbotstown

"Mark was back training with us last Saturday," says Quinn.

"I don't know what his plan is. I think he’s still in talks with clubs in America but it’s great to have him back around.

"He’s a great lad and it gave us a bit of a boost as well seeing him back. Even looking at a few videos of his kicks in the trials you could see his class and I wish him all the best no matter what he does."

Aside from Westmeath and Wicklow's encounter, Sunday will also see Longford host Meath, and Wexford welcome Carlow.

For all those teams and more, the prospect of