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23rd Jun 2017

The Toughest: Which of these five Dublin forwards should replace Diarmuid Connolly?

Big boots to fill

Darragh Culhane

Dublin are set to play Westmeath on Sunday in the Leinster Championship semi-final.

They are heavy favourites to get past Tom Cribbin’s side but it might not be the plain sailing some have expected.

Unless you have been living under a rock you will know that Diarmuid Connolly received a 12-week suspension, challenged it, failed in that challenge and accepted his ban.

Dublin will now be without their talisman until the All-Ireland semi-final should they reach that stage so that leads to the question of who should replace him in that centre-forward/free roaming role he usually occupies.

Cormac Costello

Cormac Costello Dublin

Costello has not got quite going with Dublin as of yet. This is through a combination of the level of competition for places and terrible luck with injuries.

The 22-year-old missed Dublin’s opening game against Carlow through injury and it remains to be seen if he will be fit to face Westmeath but has proven to Dublin management and supporters alike that he is extremely talented and would be more than worthy of a starting place.

The Whitehall man immortalised himself in Dublin GAA folklore last October when he came off the bench to score three points from play, proving the difference in the All-Ireland Final replay.

Kevin McManamon

Kevin McManamon

Assuming (and it’s a big assumption) that Bernard Brogan and Paddy Andrews get the nod in the full-forward line alongside Dean Rock that means there is no room for Kevin McManamon.

Yet, the 30-year-old is more than capable of playing further back the field in place of Connolly.

The St Judes man didn’t impress against Carlow, however as the idiom goes, form is temporary but class is permanent.

After impressing against Kerry in last year’s semi-final, McManamon has found himself cast as a ‘super sub’ no longer and could be a constant feature in the half-forward line over the course of the summer.

Eoghan O’Gara

Eoghan O'Gara

Much like McManamon, Eoghan O’Gara has struggled to make himself a regular starter for Dublin.

And, much like McManamon, he never fails to impress when he comes off the bench.

O’Gara scored a number of important points for Dublin over the years and none more so than his crucial score against Kerry in the semi-final as Dublin went on to win by two points.

The 31-year-old has proven that he is one of Dublin’s most versatile forwards, slotting in wherever needed and making a pretty good stab at it. Of all the candidates he is, however, least suited to a half-forward role.

Con O’Callaghan

Con O'Callaghan

The youngest and most unproven of the lot, O’Callaghan was only given his first Championship start against Carlow last month.

In that match, he didn’t get too much of a look in after Carlow defensively shut out the Dublin full-forward line.

But anyone that has seen the Cuala man play for Dublin at minor or Under-21 level will know what he’s capable of.

Whether he would be brought out that far is another question but he’s a viable option.

Paul Flynn

Paul Flynn

Battling for his place with Niall Scully, Flynn has been an absolute cornerstone for Dublin with four All-Ireland titles, eight Leinster titles, five league titles and four All-Stars.

Most of that has been from playing wing forward but he was thrown in midfield at one point in 2016.

Now, wing forward and the centre-forward role that Connolly usually occupies are completely different positions in terms of style of play and what is expected of you but the Fingallians’ man would not be the worst replacement in the world.

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