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Sunday 11 December 2016

Times a changin' for Bray's Dylan

Wanderers’ Connolly moves back to Ireland from Ipswich to forge a new path to success back across the water

Dylan Connolly has moved back to Ireland with Bray Wanderers Photo: Sportsfile
Dylan Connolly has moved back to Ireland with Bray Wanderers Photo: Sportsfile

Most players his age would do anything to get a full-time contract from a manager like Mick McCarthy.

But only a matter of weeks ago, Dylan Connolly sat in the office of the Ipswich Town manager and told the former Ireland boss that he wanted to go home, even though he has another six months left on his deal.

So Connolly, 20, is this week putting his focus on his next chapter, as a player with Bray Wanderers, hoping to kick-start his career back home in Ireland but with a burning ambition to prove himself across the water.

The fact that he saw the door to Ipswich's first team as being closed off, and also family circumstances change, with the birth of his daughter last month, led current U21 cap Connolly to pack up, finish up his affairs in England and head home.

"I was unsettled over there, I didn't feel I was going to play for the team and when I put it all together I made the decision to come home," says Connolly, who earned his move to Ipswich 12 months ago on the back of his form with Shelbourne.

"And my girlfriend was pregnant so I didn't want to miss six months of my baby's life, so I asked Ipswich to cancel my contract, let me come home and play and get things going again and I'm happy to be back home.

"But I still want to do well. I am only 20, I have managed to get away to England already so I feel I can do it again, if I perform and do well for Bray."

Connolly initially made good progress when he moved to Ipswich from Shels and was promoted to the first team squad, but no further.

"I was on the bench six times last but didn't get on," he says. "I remember one game, we were 3-0 up but I didn't get a run so that was a bit of a mystery.

"Then, I was due to play in a game against Blackpool but I did my ankle ligaments in an game with the Development squad and was out of the season, that was me done and dusted really."

Frustrated with how his career had gone at Portman Road, Connolly spoke to his U21 team boss at Ipswich, ex-international Mark Kennedy, as well as first team boss McCarthy, but his mind was made up.

"I had just come back from international duty with the Irish U21s so I knew I wanted to play more, I was in the Irish U21s with some really good players but not getting in the team with my club so that was frustrating.

Chat

"A week after I played for the U21s in November I went in to see Mick and we had our chat," Connolly says.

"Mick said he wanted to keep me but told me to do what was best for me, he admitted it would be hard for me to get into his team so it could benefit me to come home, get some games under my belt and see where I go from there.

"I had a taste for games, having played for Shels and the Irish U21s and it just wasn't the same feeling when I was playing in the reserves over there."

So Connolly, a Dublin native who relocated to Meath when he was younger, is keen to do well for Bray, a club who have made big changes to their squad for the 2016 seasons, as signings like Conor Kenna, Ryan Brennan and Mick Daly show the club's intent.

"I can see already that we have a good squad, a nice mix of youth and experience, and we could be a surprise package in the league this year," says ex-Home Farm lad Connolly, who had a brief spell at Bohemians before Shels.

"I had offers before I came to Bray. There was contact from Cork, Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers, and I had some offers in the UK as well, clubs in League Two, but it just suited me to come home and join Bray.

"I felt the standard back home would be as good as League Two, and I have a family now, I wanted to be here for my daughter, I'm home and I hope this will be a great year for me."

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