“You can stay on as number 40 on the panel…or you can f**k off.”
Diarmuid Connolly is widely renowned as one of the most talented footballers of his generation.
However, despite his talent, back in 2010 Connolly clashed with his clubmate and then Dublin manager Pat Gilroy. It was after Dublin were hammered by Meath in Leinster.
Subsequently, he walked out of the Dublin panel.
Pat Gilroy on Diarmuid Connolly.
Speaking to Joe Brolly in the Irish Independent, Pat Gilroy recalled the incident. Connolly had missed the next training session after the Meath defeat. Gilroy met him later on that night and described the conversation.
Gilroy: “You’re out Dermo. You can stay on as number 40 on the panel with no chance of playing or you can f**k off.”
Connolly: “I’ll f**k off so.”
Having played together on the same 2008 All-Ireland club winning team, this was a sign of things to come from Gilroy in order to change the attitude of the Dublin footballers.
Brolly recalls that: “On the morning of the 2010 quarter-final, the Dublin bus drove past Connolly, sitting outside Gaffney’s in Fairview, having a pint. Later that afternoon, the team made their first serious statement, beating Tyrone.”
“At the start of 2011, Connolly met Gilroy, apologised and asked to be taken back.”
However, it wasn’t nailed on that Connolly would be allowed back. Gilroy wanted to ask the rest of the panel if they were ok with the St. Vincent’s man return.
Brolly continued: “Gilroy said he would have to ask the group. The group said yes, on condition he get himself properly fit. For two months, Connolly trained alone, fanatically, until he was in the shape of his life. When he came back in, no one trained harder.”
Diarmuid Connolly on Pat Gilroy.
Back in 2017, when speaking on Blue is the Colour podcast from Hill 16 Army, Diarmuid Connolly spoke about the fallout.
Connolly said: “It was a funny one for me because in 2010 me and Mr Gilroy had a bit of a falling out.”
“It might not have been documented in the media or anything like that. I stepped away after the Leinster semi-final which in hindsight was probably the wrong thing to do.
“We had played so badly against Meath, the five goals. The changing of our defence and probably the making of our defence.
“Then the lads had a great run through the qualifiers and should have beat Cork, were unlucky not to beat Cork in my opinion. Cork got a handy All-Ireland beating Down in the final that year.”
Looking back on the year, Connolly places it up there as one of his best.
He said: “In 2011, I came back with a bit between my teeth really.”
“I actually played my best year, that and 2013 were probably my best years of football with Dublin. 2011 was special, even the way we came back in the final. It was never going to happen in a better way.”
Originally published on 27th December 2020.