For the week that’s in it, we are going with a St. Patrick’s Day special in this week’s ‘Forgotten Friday’.
In 2014, Diarmuid Connolly literally ruled the roost. Dublin were coming off the back of a second All-Ireland crown in three seasons and the St. Vincents man had marked himself out as one of the country’s top forwards in the process.
He carried his inter-county form with him into the club game as St. Vincents squeezed past St. Sylvester’s in the Dublin quarterfinal before putting four goals past Ballyboden in the semis.
That set-up a mouthwatering clash with Ballymun Kickhams in the final. After an opening day draw, the Marino club went on to defeat their northside rivals in the replay by a single score and set-up a Leinster championship campaign.
St. Vincents defeated St. Loman’s, Summerhill and Portlaoise en route to the Leinster title as well as a final-four showdown with Ballinderry which they went on to win by four points and set-up a decider with Mayo’s Castlebar Mitchels.
It was a meeting of two of Gaelic football’s most well-known clubs and two of the best teams of a generation.
The game was expected to be a tight affair. St. Vincents hadn’t exactly blitzed their way to the final and many expected Castlebar Mitchels to give them their fill of it.
However, on the day one man stood taller than the rest and put in one of the finest individual Croke Park displays ever seen; Diarmuid Connolly.
St. Vincents started the game in the same manner that they finished and it was Connolly who provided them with the launchpad for the first goal. Carrying the ball from defence into attack before releasing wing-back Michael Concarr to drive forward and score the first goal of the game.
Castlebar were the better team throughout the first half, but Connolly wasn’t deterred by this. On the stroke of half-time, he set up Ciaran Dorney to palm the ball to the net and leave the sides level at the break.
The goal meant that the half ended 2-3 to 0-9. Goals were keeping St. Vincents in this game.
It was in the second half that Connolly really came into his own. Castlebar scored two goals through Danny Kirby, but it wasn’t enough to halt the best forward in Ireland who had really hit a hot streak.
The game continued to ebb and flow before Connolly popped up on the 43rd minute to fist home a loose ball and send St. Vincents back into a lead that they would never surrender.
It was a fantastically instinctive poacher’s goal, however, Connolly was not finished yet.
With the game ticking down towards the end, Connolly scored one of the great Croke Park goals to firmly put the nail in the Castlebar coffin and mark a third All-Ireland win for the Marino men.
Connolly drove at the Castlebar defence but looked to have been swallowed by defenders as he lost control of the ball.
However, he was able to chip the ball back into his hands before unleashing a rasper of a shot straight into the top corner.
Diarmuid Connolly finished the final with 2-5 and assisted another two goals on a day where he was simply unstoppable. St. Vincents went on to win the game by seven points and the final will forever be known as the ‘Diarmuid Connolly final’.