'I'm a little bit better at dealing with it' - Connolly learning to ‘embrace’ constant provocation
Dublin star Diarmuid Connolly says he is learning to cope better with the provocation that he faces almost every time he takes the field as teams openly try to rise him.
Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin admitted it was in their plans to get Connolly "excited" - and after James Dolan tousled his hair during last Sunday's Leinster football final, Connolly grabbed the Westmeath defender in a headlock and pulled him to the ground, picking up a yellow card that could well have been black.
In the past, former Kerry player Darragh Ó Sé suggested "pulling his tail" to get a reaction - something which Mayo's Lee Keegan did in last year's drawn All-Ireland semi-final to prompt a red card for Connolly that was later overturned by the DRA.
Meath's Graham Reilly also lashed out at him during this year's Leinster semi-final, prompting a reaction.
"I've learned to deal with it, a little bit," said Connolly in a rare interview to launch the All-Ireland series in the GAA's National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown.
"You just have to take it play by play and try to get on the ball and make things happen. It is very much out of my control what other teams are trying to do to opposition players. I just have to embrace that and try to play my own game.
"You expect that, it's inter-county football, people are there to win. They're trying to do their best. That's the challenge I face.
"You are more experienced, this is my tenth inter-county season now. You learn and grow as you get older I suppose.
"I don't really listen to the good or the bad. So, whatever Darragh Ó Sé wants to talk about, that's his own thing."
Connolly has intimated that he will continue to play with Dublin for "another couple of years".
Elsewhere, Peter Crowley has declared himself fit again for Kerry's All-Ireland quarter-final after recovering from the broken nose that kept him out of the Munster final against Tipperary.