'Diarmuid Connolly is the first forward coming on... The rest of them have done nothing'
"He's almost treating him like the prodigal son."
Diarmuid Connolly is back in light blue but it remains to be seen whether he will feature against Mayo, on Saturday, and beyond.
When, after 53 minutes, Connolly traded passes with Cormac Costello, stepped inside his man and curled over a point from just over 20 metres out, it felt as if he had never been away.
Welcome back, Diarmuid Connolly... 😲🙌pic.twitter.com/lemhx3EJ0R
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) August 4, 2019
Connolly was all set for his second successive stint of summer GAA with Donegal Boston until apparent visa issues nixed his temporary switch from St Vincent's. Less than two weeks after that move fell through, Jim Gavin recalled him to Dublin's training squad and, after some team-sheet hijinks, handed him a start in Sunday's Super 8s clash with Tyrone.
Connolly looked more than comfortable in a midfield role, out on the Healy Park pitch, scored 0-1 and was black-carded late in the game. Up next are Mayo, at Croke Park, and it will be fascinating to see if Gavin uses the 32-year-old against James Horan's men.
The idea of tossing Connolly tossed 'into the cauldron against Mayo' was discussed [from 16:00 below] on The GAA Hour by host Colm Parkinson, former Meath star Cian Ward and SportsJOE editor Conán Doherty.
Parkinson admitted to being surprised that Diarmuid Connolly was drafted back into the Dublin starting 15 ahead of Bernard Brogan, who had been 'working like a dog' for the past year to try and break back in.
"He just strolled around," said Parkinson. "He got in no trouble. He stayed on the outside of the Tyrone screen and was just an option to throw it back to.
"He sprayed a few nice passes around and I thought he played very well, considering he had done feck all in the last year and a half... Whether that is any sort of preparation for Mayo, where you'd be tracking all sorts of runs and being surrounded by people who are in your face. It's zero prep."
Parkinson still reckons Connolly will see 'zero game time' against Mayo unless Dublin find themselves two or three points down, in the closing stages, and need an attacking spark. Ward can see a more involved role for the Vincent's clubman, albeit still off the bench.
"If you were to base it on performances and appearances off the bench, and everything else, Diarmuid Connolly is the first forward coming on.
"He has to. The rest of them have done nothing. They've come on in games where Dublin are hammering teams and have made no impact. Costello is going to be a sub because Dean Rock is going to start the game. Really, you're talking about Connolly and Costello as the first subs coming into the forwards.
"You're not going to play Eoghan O'Gara; he offered nothing. Kevin McManamon has lost some of that punch that he's had. Bernard Brogan has fantastic movement, and that, but he was a sub on Sunday so that means he is way down the pecking order. Paddy Small has gotten loads of opportunities but he can't be trusted as he'll get the ball and kick it wide."
While there was praise for Sean Bugler, Ward's argument, for Connolly having a key role to play, is that he is the most naturally talented player available.
Gavin has his six go-to forwards but Connolly is the man that can make a big difference off the bench.