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'It wouldn't take me very long to pick Connolly'

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Diarmuid Connolly

Diarmuid Connolly

SPORTSFILE

Diarmuid Connolly

Forty-two minutes of Diarmuid Connolly in "cruise-control" in Parnell Park last Saturday evening was sufficient evidence to convince Kevin McStay that the 33-year-old should be a starter for Dublin again, whenever the inter-county season resumes.

"I would summarise his efforts as dictating what happened in cruise control," says McStay who was in Donnycarney last Saturday in his role as RTÉ analyst.

"He was probably in third gear. And he was marking Chris Barrett - an All Star."

It's more than a week until Connolly and St Vincent's meet Kilmacud Crokes in the Dublin SFC quarter-final, but already, this year's competition represents the most consistent run of games the player has played for some time.

His form is rising in direct correlation.

McStay noted how Connolly "seems to be playing the game in a very carefree manner," just now.

"He's not under any pressure. He's got a good run of games now.

"And he's saying 'I'm here. You know what I can do. If you want me, here I am.'

"He certainly looked very at ease with himself in the whole game. While he was there, he wasn't murdering himself but still had a huge input."

McStay was naturally taken by Conolly's execution of the pass to Shane Carthy that led to the opening goal for St Vincent's, principally because it looked so effortless.

"Imagine when you go out for a game not having to worry about any of the skills of the game - because he has them," the former Roscommon manager reckons.

It's over three years since Connolly started a game for Dublin, however, and there is a theory that his skill-set might be most beneficially utilised as an impact substitute.

"I don't agree with that at all," McStay asserts.

"In fact, I would go the other way. In this era of systems, you need a player with the X-factor to break them down with the sort of range of passes he has.

"He has such a variation of passes and has the vision to pick it out. And it means that once he spots something, he doesn't wonder whether he has the ability to execute it. He just does it.

"Could you imagine Diarmuid Connolly sitting on the bench in any other county? Like, Diarmuid Connolly for quite a while has been the best footballer around.

"Now obviously there is more to the game than just football ability," McStay stresses. "But in terms of the skills of the game and his ability on the ball, there is no-one to match him.

"OK, he might not have the right attitude some days or he might lose interest in the game or he could be peripheral in a game. But that happens.

"It wouldn't take me very long to pick him," concludes the Mayo man.