Martin Breheny: Why all the special pleading for Diarmuid Connolly?
Mick Lillis is surely the top contender for the 'Most Generous Spirit of the Year Award' arising from comments on Diarmuid Connolly's dismissal on a black card during the St Vincent's-Palatine Leinster club quarter-final on Sunday.
"I'm actually sorry that Connolly was sent off because I think he's a target at times," said the Palatine joint-manager. "He's a marvellous footballer - he really is. He's the best in the business - any team would love to have him. I didn't jump for joy when he was sent off, even though he's a great player and the perception would be that it helped us. I didn't see the incident so I can't call it, but maybe sometimes it's an easy call."
A few questions come to mind. If Connolly was 'an easy target' who did the targeting? Presumably, it was Palatine players. Also, if Lillis didn't see the incident, why such sympathy for Connolly, since the incident may indeed have merited a black card?
There's a growing tendency to portray Connolly as a hapless victim of knavish opposition who deliberately set out to rile him. Wasn't his colleague, Bernard Brogan similarly targeted in his early years with Dublin, until opposition found out it was pointless?
Hasn't Colm Cooper been subjected to 'special attention' for all of his 14 years with Kerry, as indeed have many others elsewhere.
So why all the special pleading for Connolly?