Dublin legend Keith Barr fears Diarmuid Connolly may stay Stateside

Dublin legend Keith Barr says his gut feeling is that Diarmuid Connolly won’t return to inter-county duty in 2019.

Dublin legend Keith Barr fears Diarmuid Connolly may stay Stateside

By Paul Keane

Dublin legend Keith Barr says his gut feeling is that Diarmuid Connolly won’t return to inter-county duty in 2019.

A year on from turning the 2017 All-Ireland final with his second-half cameo against Mayo, Connolly is celebrating his Boston SFC title success with the local Donegal club.

He scored 12 points in their final win over Wolfe Tones and the hope among Dublin fans is that his ability is not sorely missed in Sunday’s final against Tyrone.

Barr was joined at an AIB GAA promotion by another former Dublin star, Charlie Redmond, who said he couldn’t understand how Connolly could turn his back on a potential four-in-a-row.

Barr, however, said he has the opposite view: “I would plead with everybody to back off Connolly, leave him alone, he’s a human being.”

Two-time All-Star defender Barr said: “I genuinely hope he’s enjoying himself in America. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays there. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds a new life for himself and, if that is the case, I’d be 100% delighted for him.

Asked if he agrees with Redmond that Connolly is likely to be back in blue next year, Barr shook his head. “Well, I don’t think so.”

Connolly was subjected to media focus after picking up a high-profile suspension for interfering with a linesman in the 2017 Leinster championship win over Carlow.

“I think what has gone on over the last 12 months has been a bit ridiculous regarding him,” said Barr, who reckons it must be “quite difficult” to be a modern inter-county star. “Back in the 90s and the 80s, when I started, you could go out and have a pint, you could come out of the pub, you could have a piss beside the lamppost, do you know what I mean? You might get a kebab on the way home and you were allowed to grow up, you were allowed to make mistakes, you were allowed to have fun. It’s quite difficult to be an inter-county footballer at the moment because of social media. Everything is out within 24 hours. In our day, you could have been jailed, bailed and out before anyone knew about it!”

Redmond claimed that Connolly’s suspension last year was partly down to the incident being highlighted by RTÉ’s The Sunday Game programme.

Diarmuid Connolly is, to me, the greatest forward Dublin has ever produced and to see him in a Donegal jersey, as I saw six weeks ago, it’s hard to take,” said Redmond.

“I know Dublin would have tried everything to hold him, to keep him here and I cannot understand how someone going for four-in-a-row could offer up that chance. It’s beyond me. He obviously has his reasons and so be it, but I don’t know how anybody could offer up that. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. If we win on Sunday it’ll only be the fourth time in history that it’s been done: Four-in-a-row.”

Connolly could return to a team striving for history and a five-in-a-row of All-Irelands if he’s back for 2019.

“I think if he’s around and he’s available, he’ll be back; well I’d like to think so,” said Redmond. “You always pick your best players and he’d be in our best players. He won the All-Ireland final for us last year, him and Kevin McManamon changed the whole dynamic of that game when they came on. Their direct running approach just changed everything and it drove us on.”

The finale of AIB’s new eight-part YouTube series The Toughest Rivalry, involving soccer legends Harry Redknapp and Gianluca Vialli, airs today

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