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26th May 2017

Three-time All-Ireland winner Ger Cunningham makes serious claims about Diarmuid Connolly’s hurling ability

Talent to burn

Mikey Stafford

Ger Cunningham’s CV speaks for itself.

Hurler of the Year in 1986.

A four-time All-Star.

Three senior All-Irelands, two minor All-Irelands, an Under-21 All-Ireland.

Six county championships with St Finbarr’s.

He kept goal at the highest level for almost 20 years, facing off against some of the greatest forwards in the game – the likes of Nicky English, Christy Heffernan, DJ Carey and Joe Cooney.

He played on the same team as Tomas Mulcahy, Kevin Hennessy and the great Jimmy Barry-Murphy. He coached the likes of Donal Óg Cusack, Sean Óg Ó hAilpín and the O’Connor brothers with Cork, and Paul Flynn with Ballygunner.

While he may not be universally liked by some recently retired Dublin hurlers, few would dispute his hurling knowledge or doubt his ability to spot a player.

St Vincent’s have started this year’s Dublin SHC like a train, racking up 10-47 in wins over Setanta and St Jude’s, with one player in particular standing out for Cunningham.

Speaking more generally about the reality of losing promising hurlers such as Mark Schutte and Con O’Callaghan to the footballers, Cunningham singled out Diarmuid Connolly as another established Dublin intercounty footballer who would excel at the highest levels of hurling.

“There’s no doubt, you’d love to have these guys and you can throw Diarmuid Connolly into that list as well. He’s one of the top footballers in the country but he’s also a fabulous hurler,” said Cunningham.

“I saw him in the club Championship recently with St Vincent’s, and for a lad that doesn’t play an awful lot of hurling other than playing with his club, you know to see how he was able to pick up the hurl after probably playing a lot of football with Dublin, he looked a very natural player.”

Connolly has spoken previously about how hurling was his first love. He played in an All-Ireland final at Under-21 level, scoring a point in defeat to Joe Canning’s Galway in 2007.

“My mother is from Clare as well and in the mid to late 90s Clare had a class team and we were brought to Croke Park on all those days as well. So hurling was just a natural thing for us,” he explained.

He eventually gave football his intercounty focus and four All-Ireland medals and 10 Leinster Championships suggest he made the smart choice – even if Dublin hurling fans will forever wonder what might have been.

Listen to Ger Cunningham’s interview from 12’50” below.

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