Diarmuid Connolly is one of the country’s best footballers, with some people going one step further and arguing that he’s the best around.
There’s not one person in the country that would deny that he possesses jaw-dropping footballing skills, while his leadership, commitment and hard-working qualities help further characterise him.
As one of the best footballers around in contemporary times, discussions about the St Vincent’s club man are inevitable. The Dublin footballer is no stranger to grabbing news headlines, but the Diarmuid Connolly ‘will he, won’t he’ saga needs to stop.
The St Vincent’s club man is best known for his talents on the Gaelic football pitch, and he’s respected for this. Yet, few people can respect his wishes to take a break from the footballing scene, which is strange considering the momentous effort he’s placed into representing the Dubs since making his Senior debut in the O’Byrne Cup in 2007.
Since 2007 especially, he’s been committed to the cause of Dublin and Vincent’s football. Hitting the gym, dieting, on-field practice. He’s being doing this daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, yet people continue to question the 30-year-old’s commitment due to his latest decision.
The adjectives used to describe his decision by many users on social media upon his ‘departure’ from Gaelic football are straight-out ridiculous.
“Stupid”, “self-absorbed”, “uncomitted”,” lazy”, are words that come to mind.
His character traits have altered, even reversed, in the eyes of footballing fans, and he’s being vilified for making a personal decision about his footballing career – a footballing career that he notably has no allegiance to, nor any contract with any team he represents.
He’s a free man, yet, the pressure mounting on his departure and inevitable comeback suggests he’s trapped within the game. He’s trapped because of his greatness – and as football fans, we’re trapped in a bubble of fear that we are about to lose him.
Ask anyone have they heard of Diarmuid Connolly. “The Dublin footballer?” would be a typical response. He’s defined by the sport he plays, by Dublin and St Vincent’s football, but there’s so much more to the man we are all unaware of.
He’s more than just a Dublin or Vincent’s footballer – and this is the main reason we should all respect his decision, whatever it may be, and for whatever reason it is. We don’t, nor should we, expect his daily, weekly, monthly and yearly commitment.
Instead of expecting it, we should appreciate it and be thankful for it.
If the man wants a break, give him his break. A constant discussion or debate about it is unnecessary.
One annoying aspect that has emerged from Connolly-gate is not the lack of reporting, but the lack of discussion from Connolly, Gavin and Mullins. It’s a situation that could have been avoided with a little bit of transparency.
“Diarmuid and I have agreed that what was best was that he would take a break over these games,” stated Jim Gavin in a post Galway match interview.
When questioned on his return for championship, he simply said “Please God.”
Little detail has been provided on the subject for reporters other than this.
Likewise, Brian Mullins, Connolly’s club manager at St Vincents, was questioned recently, but he remained tight-lipped on the situation and added that he didn’t want to “add to the speculation…”
But while he was “respecting [Connolly’s] wishes”, remaining tight-lipped acts as the opposite and this good-will gesture only served to increase speculation.
While it would be easy to condemn the media for intensifying the Connolly-gate story, they’re not completely to blame. Understandably, as one of the country’s best footballers, the breaking news that he’s not playing with his club or county was substantial for sports news publishers.
However, one could pose the question, is it still newsworthy…?
It’s almost four months since the beginning of the Allianz Football League and news was surfacing then regarding Connolly’s alleged up-in-flames inter-county career.
It seems that the best footballer in the country cannot take a break from this amateur game – and a well-earned break at that – without constant press, national talk, or sensationalised headlines questioning his loyalty or motivation to play with his club or county.
Of course, his absence from the Dublin Senior club championship warranted attention, but whether his absence was worthy of such significant attention poses another argument.
Despite it all, we haven’t seen the last of Connolly in the Sky Blue or Marino colours, there’s no doubt about that.
Until then, let him put his feet up in front of an open fire beside a nearby trophy cabinet.
A trophy cabinet which contains 5 All-Ireland medals, 10 Leinster medals, and 4 National Football League medals to name just a handful.
He’ll be back when he’s back.
Jason Redmond, Pundit Arena.