Tuesday 17 September 2019

'Is there a chance he could be a bolter? I wouldn't be a bit surprised' - The Diarmuid Connolly question

Dublin manager Jim Gavin and Diarmuid Connolly during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Dublin manager Jim Gavin and Diarmuid Connolly during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

Pretty much everybody on any GAA WhatsApp group across the country did a double-take earlier this week as a photo of what appeared to the Dublin team page from Saturday's All-Ireland final programme made the rounds.

The reason for said double-take was the inclusion of Diarmuid Connolly's name in the number 7 slot on the Dublin half-back line. Closer inspection revealed the pic to look a fairly clear photoshop but with the likes of Blues legend Charlie Redmond calling on Jim Gavin to start the Vincent's man, perhaps it's not as outlandish a suggestion as it seems.

The topic was one of many discussed on The Throw-In's All-Ireland final replay podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy. Irish Independent GAA correspondent Michael Verney is one of those who can see merit in the idea and he pointed to the precedent of players who didn't start the first game shining in the replay.

"Connolly had one shot which was just marginally wide and then chased back down the sideline and got a brilliant turnover when they needed a turnover. Is there a chance he could be a bolter? I wouldn't be a bit surprised," Verney said.

"The last four All-Ireland replays across hurling and football, the man of the match has ben someone who didn't start the first game. Michael Fitzsimons was the only one of the four that featured at any stage of the four games. In the hurling, it was Walter Walsh in ‘12, Shane O'Donnell in ‘13 and Kieran Joyce in ‘14.

"Eoin Murchan is probably the most likely but is there a chance that Diarmuid Connolly could be thrown in? Possibly. Would it upset Kerry's plans? It's hard to know."

It's been a feature of Dublin's campaign that their bench hasn't been emptied to the extent it had in the first four years of the drive-for-five. Whether this indicates a lack of trust on Jim Gavin's part in his back-up options or is just down to father time is debatable. But the fact remains that last Sunday week's drawn game was the only one of the six finals contested since 2015 where his final sub remained unused.

Yet with questions now being asked of Dublin for the first time since 2016's drawn game against Mayo, the expectation seems to be that some element of change in the Dublin 26 will be needed to ensure that history is made come 8pm on Saturday.  

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"I just think Kerry are a lot more solid in that you know what they're going to pick," Verney added.

"Whereas there's still a few variables with Dublin and maybe the thing that made them a tad stale was the element of predictability.

"This was one of the first games where we could actually predict that this is going to be Dublin's team and nearly everybody got it right. Maybe there'll be that little bit of unpredictability to start come Saturday."

Online Editors

The Throw-In: 'Jim Gavin has achieved what Mick O'Dwyer and Brian Cody couldn't do'

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