Friday 2 December 2016

'Donegal goal miss doesn't haunt me'

In attendance at yesterday’s 2015 Dublin SFC launch at Parnell Park were (l-r) Na Fianna’s Tomás Brady, St Vincent’s Diarmuid Connolly, St Brigid’s Shane Supple and Ballymun Kickhams’ Alan Hubbard
In attendance at yesterday’s 2015 Dublin SFC launch at Parnell Park were (l-r) Na Fianna’s Tomás Brady, St Vincent’s Diarmuid Connolly, St Brigid’s Shane Supple and Ballymun Kickhams’ Alan Hubbard

... what's seldom is wonderful

WHERE to start? As a rule, Diarmuid Connolly doesn't do interviews so there was much surprise and even more to cover in Parnell Park yesterday when he arrived as St Vincent's representative at the launch of this year's Dublin senior football and hurling Championships.

Save for one promotional appearance at the beginning of 2010, Connolly's sole media activity came in a pretty understated and short TV appearance with The Sunday Game upon accepting the Man of the Match award following Dublin's All-Ireland semi-final win over Kerry in 2013.

A conscious decision, then, to maintain a low profile, despite - presumably- plenty of requests to lend his name and voice to various promotions since his star's ascent to national view?

"No, nothing like that. I was asked to be club captain with Vincent's this year so I was just conscious that I wanted to promote Vincent's in the right light today, obviously with the launch of the Dublin Championship.

"Tomás (Quinn) asked me to do it, another good friend of mine. So I just came out to promote the Championship. That's all."

... THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY?

OR how about his miss against Donegal, the goal-that-never-was, the one that - rhetorically at least - would have put Dublin through the gates of safety and into last year's All-Ireland final?

"Yeah, thanks for that," Connolly grins at the mention.

"But a lot of other things could have happened in that match that didn't happen," he points out.

"It was a good save. I probably should have put it into the right hand corner rather than putting it across the 'keeper.

"It's not something that haunts me. It's just … it's a shot at goal. If it goes in, we're another three points ahead. If it goes wide or it's saved, we're still in the game.

"We were winning the game at that point anyway. It wasn't, in my opinion, a major turning point. I think the two goals they got after half-time were."

... the late, great dave billings

NATURALLY, Connolly's relationship with Dave Billings, who sadly passed away this week following a heart attack, is broached and his fondness for the man is obvious.

"Absolutely massive influence on me," he confirms.

"He brought me into the Dublin setup when Pillar Caffrey was the manager. I was only 18 years of age.

"He gave me great guidance in the game, on and off the field. Obviously, a Vincent's man - like myself - very saddened to hear he had passed.

"I would know his sons; Cathal and Neal very well. I played hurling and football with them all the way up with the club.

"I was actually only speaking to him on Saturday. I met him on Collins' Avenue, cycling on his bike. He was an exceptional man.

"You can see by the amount of Tweets and media stuff, even talking to people around here today … you can see the amount of people he actually influenced. Not just in GAA, but in other parts of life as well.

"He always had a smile on his face. He always had a bit of humour to what he was doing.

"I was little bit naïve coming into a setup where there are media obligations and all this sort of stuff. And he directed me in the right path."

- BY CONOR McKEON

diarmuid connolly on . . .

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