Will Boston’s loss be Dublin's gain this year?

Will Boston’s loss be Dublin's gain this year?

A Dublin football panel without a St Vincent’s club representative just doesn’t seem right. 

Finding one is not the problem. Finding the right one is the six-marker. Will Diarmuid Connolly be that man this summer?

Has he graciously accepted the opportunity to train with his Dublin team-mates again as divine intervention, or as a final resort? 

Dublin supporters and GAA followers will just be delighted to have a small chance to see one of the most gifted footballers of a generation to play in the flesh again.

I say a ‘small’ opportunity, as Jim Gavin won’t risk sentiment for victory. 

He and his team are too close to start indulging in the ‘I’ before ‘Team’. 

What potential role, if any, does Jim Gavin see Diarmuid Connolly playing over the remaining few games?

Midfield area

Cork, at times, devoured Dublin for breaking ball on Saturday evening. They ‘horsed’ into Dublin once Cluxton pinged the ball into the middle third. 

They made it count on the scoreboard, too. Was this rustiness on Dublin’s part, or better technique and body positioning by the Cork players? 

I would say the former, as Dublin’s break percentages increased in the final quarter. Yet it is an area for concern for Dublin and something that Diarmuid Connolly could solve. 

Connolly, “if” match sharp, can definitely improve Dublin’s ability to win both clean and dirty ball in the middle third.

Yes, they have plenty of options: Niall Scully, Brian Howard, and Ciaran Kilkenny are excellent primary winners, while Paul Mannion and Con O’Callaghan are no strangers to picking up breaks in the middle third.

All have pace and exuberance in abundance, but if anything happens to Brian Fenton or if someone like Kerry’s David Moran manages to dominate the sector, Connolly would be some ace to throw down in that crucial battleground.

Will Boston’s loss be Dublin's gain this year?

When the chips are down and when your team needs to win possession, Connolly can deliver. He has a memory bank of ‘what to do next’ in a knock-out championship match.

He’s a different type of option to Michael Darragh MacAuley. MacAuley is massive on the ground for Dublin. 

He grinds down the opposition with his drilling, incisive sprints and his ability to successfully pop the ball to the shooter in the scoring zone.

What happens if McAuley meets a physical midfielder like Tyrone’s Brian Kennedy and gets outmuscled? 

Can Michael Darragh change his style and revert to a kicking game? 

Connolly has a much better kicking game and he could certainly help Dublin when the margins and space get much tighter.

Impact sub

No player ever wants to be substituted. On Saturday night, Dublin only had one sub on by the 64th minute. 

I can’t remember the last time that Jim Gavin left it so late to use his bench. 

Then again, I can’t remember the last time that Dublin were only ahead by three points with 10 minutes to play. 

Every Dublin player will be delighted that they weren’t substituted early on. They were in a battle and they wanted to show their manager that they could persevere and come out on top. 

An influx of northsiders came on in the final few minutes.

The experienced Na Fianna warrior Jonny Cooper was the most notable. 

He needs lots of minutes to get match-fit as Dublin will need his defensive nous against the likes of David Clifford and Paddy McBrearty down the road. 

Will Boston’s loss be Dublin's gain this year?

Cormac Costello will probably be an impact sub for the rest of the championship as Dean Rock is now ready to be fully road-tested with a starting jersey. 

Eoin Murchan is the man-marking sub and Kevin McManamon is the ultimate impact sub, or will that honour now fall to Connolly?

Connolly can score penalties, sidelines, and frees off either foot. 

He can score for fun and potentially set up goals for Con O’Callaghan and Paul Mannion with his vision and his sublime foot-passing. 

The question is — will he accept that he may not even make the match-day panel? If he does, but fails get game-time, how will he react? 

And if Gavin does entrust him to make an impact, will he stay cool, calm, and collected? 

Can the St Vincent’s man, once again, showcase the country his wide array of breathtaking skills and leave the Bostonians to reflect on ‘what might have been…’?

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