Diarmuid Connolly lights up St. Vincent's opener 1 month ago

Diarmuid Connolly lights up St. Vincent's opener

Diarmuid Connolly hasn't gone away.

At 31 years of age, he's still in peak condition and he's still as skilful and as accurate as you'd expect Diarmuid Connolly to be.

The man who hasn't played for Dublin in almost a full year - when they beat Mayo in Castlebar - started for St. Vincent's on Sunday and dragged them out of a sticky spot in their league opener.

The capital's Division One champions had to come from behind in the second half to see off newly-promoted Skerries Harps and they did it against a strong breeze in Marino.

2-15 to 0-14, Vincent's won in the end with Connolly kicking four from play for his club.

Three came in the first half, all three off the left as he curled over majestically from range with his so-called weaker foot.

For a man with such vision and creativity, it's stupid to stand off Connolly. But if you get too close to him, he'll sidestep and take you for speed and, if you get a hand on him, he'll use you to turn more acutely and then just throw you off with his strength.

It's a conundrum that every defender who has come up against him has faced and, with him back at number 11 for Vincent's, it's going to be a weekly nightmare for even the best of them.

And, make no mistake, this was a tough test for Vincent's who were hit with intensity by a very well set-up Harps outfit.

In the summer, Connolly won the Boston championship out in America and Derry star, Ciaran McFaul, explained just how much he helped change the attitude of the team.

"He went to yoga every morning," McFaul told the Irish News.

"A lot of boys there were eating whatever, but we all signed up to the gym, he was there every day, doing his yoga, eating right.

"You knew by his lifestyle, it’s no wonder he’s so good. He took leadership, we were doing all Dublin’s drill-based stuff. It was all football, big into kicking and moving the ball quickly. I was out two weeks before he came out, all we did was fist-passing the Donegal way.

"Connolly came out and said ‘no, I’m not used to playing that way, we’re not doing that’. After that our coach, Barney Curran brought in a lot of kicking."

With Dublin gunning for a record-breaking five in a row of All-Ireland titles and just about every other county in the land aiming target dots at their heads, the return of a man who is still so obviously one of the best in the business could be a vital kick in their surge.

After the loss to Kerry though, their second defeat in three games, Jim Gavin rubbished reports that Connolly was training with Dublin strength and conditioning coach, Bryan Cullen.

"I can confirm that is certainly not the case. Absolutely not.

"If any player wants to volunteer their time to inter county football we’ll always look at them. The door has always remained open for players that have either been with us in the past or want to join us who hasn’t been on the squad yet."

If Connolly keeps up this sort of form for Vincent's, it will be strange if he wasn't guided in through that open door at some stage over the next seven months.