herald

Monday 22 April 2019

Duo give Gavin a timely boost

Connolly and O'Carroll both impress on returns

IMPRESSIVE: Diarmuid Connolly drives forward for St Vincent’s against St Brigid’s during the Dublin SFC match at Lawless Park on Friday night. Photo: Caroline Quinn
IMPRESSIVE: Diarmuid Connolly drives forward for St Vincent’s against St Brigid’s during the Dublin SFC match at Lawless Park on Friday night. Photo: Caroline Quinn

If you were the suspicious sort you might conclude there was something more orchestrated at play than the apparently random but connected events in Swords and Donnycarney on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Because we've only had one round of the Dublin SFC so far but already, you could make a sturdy argument that April has been the most interesting month of the year so far in the context of constitution of the Dublin squad ahead of this monumental summer.

"Any body - any club player…if they play well in the Championship and we get notification of it, we'll pop down, we'll get somebody to watch the player," said Jim Gavin in Breffni Park after an unremarkable League campaign concluded with an unremarkable victory over Cavan last month.

"And if he's doing it, if he's playing consistently well, we're going to get them in a have a look at them."

Industry

And so it was that Diarmuid Connolly and Rory O'Carroll submitted returning performances over the weekend that, even if both players had been unheralded, would at least have warranted further inspection.

On Friday in Lawless Park in Swords under the watch of Dublin selector Paul Clarke, Connolly gave a performance of measured industry in the unusual role of centre-back for St Vincent's.

His defensive prowess wasn't tested and he left the field before the final whistle with what seemed like a minor injury but in between, he gave peeks at his class when necessary.

Mostly, Connolly acted as a pivot, linking running moves and occasionally driving forward in possession himself and in doing so, demonstrated that that effortless acceleration was still easily located.

He made one pass that induced a collective gasp from the crowd, a free from 60 yards he hit with such power at such a low trajectory on to Mossy Quinn's chest, his long-time St Vincent's strike partner had turned and snapped off a shot before anyone else on the pitch had time to react.

Involved

If anything, O'Carroll was even more involved for Kilmacud Crokes against Ballymun Kickhams in their group 2 Parnell Park on Saturday.

On what was his first Championship game since November 2015, he kept Dean Rock to one point in the first half and Ted Furman to one in the second but was typically aggressive in trying to defend from in front.

Most remarkably for a man who hasn't played a serious game of football or hurling in well over three years, his muscular frame showed no signs of wastage.

What it all means yet for Dublin isn't certain. But it wouldn't take much to be convinced that these are the visible machinations of a much grander plan.

Either that or Gavin has been eternally blessed that on the eve of his most important summer as Dublin manager, two multiple All-Ireland winners of great and greatly varied talents in both form and fitness have landed conveniently back on his lap.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News