You’d have to be living under a rock to have avoided all the media attention that has followed the suspension of Dublin and St. Vincents forward Diarmuid Connolly since the Leinster Quarter Final against Carlow at the beginning of June.
That afternoon in O’Moore Park, the Dublin attacker was being pushed, pulled and dragged by a number of the Carlow panel over the sideline right in front of the main stand. And right in front of at least one match official.
When no action was taken, Connolly approached linesman Ciaran Branigan to convey his annoyance. Yes, Diarmuid put his hand on Branigan’s shoulder but no action was taken on the pitch at the time of the incident.
It was only when the CCCC chose to review the incident that a 12 week ban was proposed, which of course the Dublin star accepted.
Fast forward a little over 10 weeks and as the All Ireland Semi Final draws closer, the whispers in the winds are starting to again become stronger.
Connolly’s suspension will end on the eve of this massive clash with Tyrone in Croke Park, so it’s time for Jim Gavin to field questions regarding Diarmuid’s involvement in this much anticipated fixture.
“He’s been on his own programme”, the Dublin boss told RTÉ Sport.
“We’ve been keeping a close eye on him”.
The question most people are seeking the answer to is will Connolly start on Sunday week? Or will be called to impact from the Croke Park bench? Or will he feature at all?
Right now the forward has missed Dublin’s games against Westmeath and Kildare in another title winning Leinster campaign, and has also been absent for the teams All Ireland Quarter Final victory over Monaghan two weekends ago.
Ask most fans what they’d want, not just from the capital, but from the further reaches of this land, and you’d have a pretty unanimous yes to seeing one of the country’s most gifted athletes straight back into the frey.
But when posed that question, the Dublin bosses answer was simply “We will just have to see as we get closer to the game.”
And few can see any quibble with Gavin’s response when you see just how his Dublin side have reacted to life without their star forward.
Dublin’s attack has in no way weakened, in fact no evidence of any faltering has been witnessed with the likes of Con O’Callaghan getting a much deserved call to the starting line up and indeed proving his worth, particularly in a stellar performance in the recent Leinster Final against Kildare. The young Cuala star closed the day on 0-12 of Dublin’s 2-23, half from play and half from dead balls.
Paul Mannion rose to the occasion in Dublin’s Semi Final win over Westmeath, scoring 0-08. Add to that the goals scored across the semi final and final by Dean Rock (2), Ciaran Kilkenny, Kevin McManamon, Eoghan O’Gara and James McCarthy, plus a return to form from now veteran Bernard Brogan after Rock’s dismissal against Kildare and a consistent display throughout from St. Brigids Paddy Andrews, you’d be hard pushed to choose just six players to start up front for the reigning champions.
The All Ireland Quarter was absolutely no different, and also saw the return of Fingallians Paul Flynn to action, giving the Dublin boss an additional name to check off his injury list, which by now is at the minimum.
Gavin has now confirmed that he has a complete panel to choose from for their Semi Final clash against Tyrone, with no injury worries, including Whitehall Colmcilles Cormac Costello, who was the only remaining panel member still not ready for action.
“The squad is fully fit.”
“We have a full squad to pick from.”