Thursday 29 June 2017

'I hope no one would see me as a cynical player' - Diarmuid Connolly argues his case

Diarmuid Connolly is shown a black card by referee Paddy Neilan during Allianz Division 1 final against Kerry
Diarmuid Connolly is shown a black card by referee Paddy Neilan during Allianz Division 1 final against Kerry
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

In the wake of Dublin's league final defeat, Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly packed his golf clubs and headed for the airport.

After losing the decider and their more than two-year-old unbeaten record, it seemed like a good idea. But even in Spain, there was no getting away from that game and Kerry.

Football seemed to be following him around as he ran into two Kerry footballers at his hotel.

"No, but it was hard to see him down in Vilamoura in the same hotel as me!" Connolly laughed, when asked if it was hard to see Kerry captain Fionn Fitzgerald lift the league title that had been Dublin property for the last four seasons.

"There was Fionn, the girlfriend, Darran O'Sullivan, the girlfriend. We rocked in on Wednesday morning with the golf clubs and who's sitting there only the two Kerry boys.

"I said hello, of course. Ah they're nice guys."

Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly at the launch of the Beko Club Bua award scheme, a new club accreditation and health check system co-ordinated by Leinster GAA. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly at the launch of the Beko Club Bua award scheme, a new club accreditation and health check system co-ordinated by Leinster GAA. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The league was more stop than start from his point of view. Connolly took an extended break after a club campaign that ran all the way to February and the All-Ireland semi-final. But when he did rejoin the squad, he didn't manage a full 70 minutes in the league thanks to black cards against Monaghan and Kerry.

But he's hopeful his relatively quiet spring will pay dividends later in the summer.

"Obviously I was back for the Monaghan game," he said at the launch of Leinster GAA's Beko Club Bua award scheme which aims to promote best practice on and off the field.

"I had a nice break after the club championship. In fairness to Jim (Gavin), I probably needed it - not for the body, more for the mind. Just to switch off for a couple of weeks and then get back into the swing of things.

"I was training in the background but I kind of stayed away from the panel for a couple of weeks.

"I was going to say they didn't need me but they were going well in the league and there no need to rush back.

"So it was actually really nice to do that. And then come back and try and fight for a place in the Monaghan game, which I didn't last too long, similar (to the) league final.

"It didn't go to plan but it was nice to get back."

Connolly admits he's "conscious" that picking up another black card will lead to a one-game ban but insists it won't change how he plays this summer.

"I mean look, the first black card I ever got was against Monaghan. I would hope no one would see me as a cynical player.

"That's not part of my game. Going forward and attacking is a big part of what I bring to the Dublin team."

The Dublin panel have gone their separate ways for a few weeks but Connolly will be busy nonetheless.

St Vincent's, now under the management of Dublin legend Brian Mullins, start the defence of their Dublin title this weekend when they face Round Towers, Clondalkin.

There could be another game with the club while he also hopes to squeeze in a game with the hurlers too before the Dubs regroup for their championship opener against either Carlow or Wexford on June 3.

And despite going into the summer without the league title for the first time since 2012, Connolly insists the spring was good to Dublin.

"The league is about learning. It's about looking at new guys and there have been guys in that panel for the past five or six years who haven't gotten runs in the championship but a lot of them have put up their hand now," he said.

"Look at Eric Lowndes there - he had a super League.

"Ciarán Reddin who a lot of people probably didn't know about before this year.

"I knew about him. I had played with him in DIT and I've played with him in the last four or five years with Dublin, albeit at the start of the league or in the O'Byrne Cup stages.

"Niall Scully came in and did really well. Shane Carthy from my own club came in and did really well.

"So we've blooded a lot of new guys. These are guys in their mid-20s. You can take the positives out of it but at the end of the day, it's a national final and we were there to win it.

"We've got to learn from that."

Irish Independent

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