Connolly backs fringe players to flourish
DUBLIN forward Diarmuid Connolly has backed his team-mates to make up for the absence of Ciaran Whelan and Shane Ryan this season, WRITES DONNCHADH BOYLE.
Whelan retired from the inter-county scene after last year's All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Kerry while Shane Ryan has thrown his lot in with the county's hurlers. Ryan and Whelan often formed Dublin's engine room in midfield but Connolly believes the talent in the Dublin squad is there to replace them.
Dublin's new faces produced a good showing when securing a draw against Meath in Parnell Park on Sunday to provide reason for optimism in the capital.
"It is up to the fringe players to come on and push the team on. Lads like Eamon Fennell, Ross McConnell and Darren Magee, they can step in and fill Ciaran Whelan's and Shane Ryan's boots.
"They put in a good performance considering Meath had a very strong team out. I thought they were unlucky in normal time not to win it."
The apprentice electrician is tied to DIT until the conclusion of their Sigerson Cup campaign but is hoping to return to the Dublin squad -- who have been training twice a day during the week -- before the start of the League campaign which opens with a trip to the Kingdom.
"Obviously we want to progress in the Sigerson too and hopefully go all the way but of course it is a chance for the (Dublin) management to see you playing at a high level and if you are playing well you get a chance to get back into the squad," added Connolly.
"I've been there (in the squad) for the last two or three years so it is just a matter of consistency and hopefully the management will keep their faith in you."
And the St Vincent's man added that the adjusted rule that outlaws the hand-pass isn't working.
"I'm not a big fan of the hand-pass rule, the open hand, it's hard to police. It's a silly rule really, I think.
"The mark is a big thing, especially for lads playing around the middle and goalkeepers as well. I'm very much in favour of the penalty. It just makes it easier, a higher percentage of them are going to be scored."