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Wednesday 16 October 2019

Connolly thought Ireland call was a wind-up

Aaron Connolly
Aaron Connolly

Aaron Connolly has revealed that he thought his Irish international call was a wind-up and he admits that his sensational two-goal Premier League debut still hasn't sunk in.

As Ireland few to Tbilisi for the first of two crucial Euro 2020 qualifiers, Galwegian Connolly is in line for another debut - this time in green.

"It hasn't really sunk in," he said. "I think the picture on my face when the first goal went in probably tells you the whole story really, when I was running away celebrating.

"It's a bit like 'what just happened?' And then with the second one, I was just proud really. It hadn't sunk in by full-time but that's a good thing. It keeps you hungry for more.

"After the game, I went for food with my dad. It's weird, because I used to watch Premier League goals with him all the time and I always felt I could do something like that, it's just I never thought I'd get the chance.

"So to do it against Tottenham, twice, is a 'pinch me' moment. Maybe after these few days are all over, I can move on to the next few months and years of my career.

"I couldn't have asked for more in how I wanted a debut to go. Everything went well, the two goals, the win. It was just a mad day, the best day I've ever had in football. A moment to treasure."

However, his super Saturday wasn't finished yet, as he told FAI TV.

"And then after I'd dropped my dad to Gatwick Airport, I'd just arrived in my girlfriend's house and a team-mate had said the Ireland manager had been on looking for my number.

"I thought it was a wind-up, but it was true. I rang my parents and they were just shocked. They didn't expect it either.

"I hadn't heard much on social media. It was the proudest thing any 19-year-old Irish kid who wants to play for his country could experience.

"I was speechless until I let my family and my girlfriend's family know."

Although he first starred with the U14s in the Hibernia Cup, Connolly's international progress has not always been smooth.

He did score in his native Galway for the U19s last season, but he was then frozen out of Tom Mohan's squad before being promoted by newly-installed U21 manager Stephen Kenny.

"My passion for Ireland has never changed. Obviously there were different circumstances and I wasn't picked in the U19s squad.

"But then Stephen Kenny came in and like a breath of fresh air just gave me the chance to show it's not what other people think. Thankfully I was able to repay his trust. I get on with him well.

"The U21s are a great squad to be part of and now the senior lads are looking after me well. I love playing for Ireland and hopefully that can continue for another couple of years."

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