If this is the end for Diarmuid Connolly, there was one more piece of magic to behold 1 month ago

If this is the end for Diarmuid Connolly, there was one more piece of magic to behold

If you didn't see it with your own eyes, you'd scarcely believe it.

Diarmuid Connolly missed his big goal chance but he made two sublime contributions to Dublin scores.

Half-time at Croke Park and Kerry were not going away.

Peter Keane's men had come back from four points down to draw level at 0-10 apiece and were unfortunate not to be leading after Con O'Callaghan had fouled Tadhg Morley as he bore down on Stephen Cluxton's goal.

Brian Fenton was being kept quiet but a few of the Dublin forwards were in form and giving their fans hope that a five-in-a-row victory was drawing near. Then Jack McCaffrey went down clutching his hamstring. He tried to play on but it was not happening.

The man-of-the-match from the final, two weeks before, was a busted flush. He would not be coming out for the second half.

Jim Gavin looked to his bench and went with a man who could so easily have been playing his summer championship football in the United States, again, with Donegal Boston.

The second half began with the news - McCaffrey off, Connolly on. For all of the adulation he receives, there may have been doubts if Connolly, who had only featured in two championship games this summer, could still mix it with this rabid Kerry side.

He started off well and looked composed in possession. On 44 minutes, he stepped forward with a gem of a raking pass over the Kerry screen and right into the arms of Ciarán Kilkenny. The Castleknock clubman stepped inside and curled one over to put his side two clear again.

The weight of that Connolly pass really needs re-watching to be appreciated.

Possession won, turning to carry, head up, spotting Kilkenny and arrowing one straight into his running clutches.

Credit: RTE

Five minutes later and Connolly drew in three Kerry defenders and, under the pump, managed to slip Niall Scully through on goal. Scully could well have scored but fired too high and it was just a point for his side but, crucially, another point ahead. Connolly lost possession three times in his second half outing but the good outweighed the bad.

Connolly could have sealed the victory as he charged in on goal but, rather than passing to a teammate, he opted to shoot and his effort was blocked. There was no cherry on top but the cake was plenty.

Now that the five-in-a-row has been sealed, it will be interesting to see if the likes of Connolly, Bernard Brogan, Philly McMahon, Stephen Cluxton and more opt to take a step back and let the younger generation go for six.

If this is the end for Connolly, there was one more piece of magic to behold.