No regrets for Diarmuid Connolly over sideline tug-of-war with Ciaran Kilkenny

DUBLIN FORWARD DIARMUID Connolly didn’t lose any sleep over his decision to go for a point from the sideline in the last minute of the drawn All-Ireland final with Mayo.

Connolly overruled his teammate Ciaran Kilkenny, who appeared as though he wanted to play the ball short and retain possession.

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Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

But the St Vincent’s man opted to shoot, sending the sideline wide and allowing Mayo enough time to launch one last attack.

Cillian O’Connor kicked a last-gasp equaliser and Connolly’s decision not to play it short and run the clock down proved a costly one as Mayo forced another day out.

“I don’t read the media too much,” Connolly said at a press event before the Dublin SFC final. “All I wanted to do was put the ball dead. There was what? A minute left in injury time?

“Just put the ball dead. We could set up for the kick-out, which actually didn’t happen. We were too slow for the kick-out. They ended up getting it off short and they went up and scored a point.

“But I mean, yeah, I wouldn’t say it was regrettable. But maybe I should have kept possession of the ball in hindsight.

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“But these things happen in the game.

“I didn’t really think about it. I thought we should have won the game in open play, to be honest with you.

“But, sure look, these things happen. We went on and got the job done the second day.”

His penalty was a key signpost on Dublin’s route to victory in the replay. Connolly tucked the spot-kick into the bottom left corner with minimal fuss.

He typically practiced his penalties three to four times after every training session with the county. Once he stepped up against David Clarke, there was no doubt in his mind where it was going.

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“I was the designated penalty taker for Dublin this year so I practiced every single time I went out on the training field.

“I knew where I was going to put it, if it was going to happen. I know there was a little bit of a time delay in changing ‘keepers because Hennelly got the black card.

“But I mean…no, I just put the ball down. As I said in the interview [after the game], picked a corner, put it there and the rest is history, really.

“You can’t play the occasion. It’s a spot kick. It’s you against the ‘keeper.”

Despite enjoying another outstanding year in blue, the 29-year-old wasn’t nominated for Footballer of the Year, but he gave his full-backing to Dublin teammate Brian Fenton.

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“Who got my vote? Fento. Fento’s the man,” he said.

A talented hurler, Connolly effectively closed the door on ever appearing for Dublin in the small ball code.

“I don’t see myself playing inter-county hurling in the future, no. I played club hurling this year, albeit a 20-minute spell for one game.

“I’ll definitely play club hurling but not the inter-county side of things. That ship has sailed unfortunately.”

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