Saturday 10 December 2016

Watch: Diarmuid Connolly couldn't have been more casual when explaining his vital All-Ireland final penalty

Tom Rooney

Published 01/10/2016 | 20:37

1 October 2016; Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin scores a goal from the penalty spot during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
1 October 2016; Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin scores a goal from the penalty spot during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Diarmuid Connolly was incredibly nonchalant when accounting for his utterly vital penalty for Dublin in their All-Ireland SFC final replay victory over Mayo.

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Five minutes after the restart, an absolutely absorbing All Ireland final was all square. In that moment, speculating on which side would ultimately prevail would have been a fool’s errand, such were the fine margins.

Mayo goalkeeper Robert Hennelly then compounded what had already proven a harrowing personal ordeal.

Hennelly grounded Paddy Andrews just as he was about to uncork a shot, got himself black-carded and left the referee no choice but to award Dublin a penalty.

Up stepped Diarmuid Connolly. Over the last two weeks his tempestuous on-field rivalry with Lee Keegan had dominated the airwaves and headlines, but now was his chance to seize control of the narrative.

Aptly, Keegan had registered a cracking goal for the Westerners in the opening half, and the towering forward needed to respond in kind.

No pressure then. Connolly dispatched his penalty with a consummate ease and Croke Park erupted in a deafening din.

Speaking after the Dubs’ 1-15 to 1-14 win, Connolly told RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey the secret to a good spot kick, and his explanation was almost indifferent. The weight of the responsibly on his shoulders was obviously lost on the St Vincents man.

“Just take a breath, put it in the corner and put it away - that’s all it is,” he said.

Apparently, it’s as simple as that.

Connolly went on to echo the words of teammate Philly McMahon, when claiming that Dublin weren’t concerned by the implications of retaining their title. Indeed, they are the first side from the capital to do so since 1977.

This afternoon, he said, was just a matter of winning a game - nothing more, nothing less.

“We’re not here to prove a point,” Connolly explained.

 “Every game as it comes and every year as it comes. We weren’t going to defend this Sam Maguire, we were going to attack it and win it. I said that two months ago and that’s what we went after.”

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