Former All Star Ray Cosgrove has warned ex-Dublin colleague Diarmuid Connolly that there’s more ‘treatment’ coming down the line for him.
Former Championship top scorer Cosgrove said he’s witnessed St Vincent’s man Connolly being provoked and wound up by opposing players on various occasions.
Dublin manager Jim Gavin claimed after last weekend’s All-Ireland quarter-final win over Donegal, when Connolly was dismissed for two bookings, some of his players received ‘special attention’.
Connolly got his first booking for grappling with Donegal’s Ryan McHugh and Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin stated after the Leinster final his players set out to frustrate Connolly who was booked in that tie for a similar tangle with James Dolan.
Mayo’s Lee Keegan also confirmed his plan was to antagonise Connolly when the players clashed in last year’s drawn All-Ireland semi-final, leading to Connolly being red carded.
Cosgrove said Connolly has to learn to ‘turn the other cheek’ but acknowledged that’s easy to say when he is being continually targeted.
“The two points Dermo kicked against Donegal, off his left and his right, they were a joy to watch, he could have had 2-2 after 20 or 25 minutes. That’s how good he is and that’s why he’s getting so much attention,” said Cosgrove.
And Cosgrove expect Peter Crowley to be handed the man marking duties when Dublin face Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final at the end of the month.
“But he’s no good in the stand and, you know, Peter Crowley will probably be in his shorts the next day. If they get over Kerry then himself and Lee (Keegan) will probably get up close and personal again.
“The referee is going to obviously have to watch it. If he is going to be involved in a couple more incidents, will they say, ‘Oh, it’s Dermo again’. So he’s probably not doing himself any favours in that regard when you are getting involved with fellas and pinning them to the ground.
“I’d prefer to see him have a laugh at a fella and get away and run into a bit of space because I want to see him playing, I want to see him on the pitch, I want to see the magic that he can create. So do 80,000 paying spectators.
“The best players in the country you want to have on the field.”
Cosgrove said he expected Connolly would have been taken aside and counselled by boss Gavin on the provocation issue following Cribbin’s post-Leinster final comments. But the Kilmacud Crokes man, who was a selector with the Wicklow senior team last year, conceded it’s difficult in the heat of the moment for Connolly to show restraint.
“It’s easy for me to sit here and say he shouldn’t get involved in tussles and little fracas’ with guys but it is something I would love to see him turn a blind eye to, run away from the tussle,” continued Cosgrove.
“Yes, that is very difficult when you want to put a marker down and say, ‘listen, I’m not going to be bullied’. You’ve got to get the happy medium.
“I was there, I got a fair bit of treatment. You don’t want to give a fella an inch. If he’s on your case, give him an inch and he’ll take a mile.
“But there’s that happy medium where you say (to an opponent), ‘you know what, you’re going to earn whatever you get off me today’.”
Cosgrove confirmed he has stepped down from his own role in the Wicklow management team alongside club mate and ex-Dublin colleague Johnny Magee.
The former Dublin sharpshooter revealed that around 25 Wicklow players rejected invitations to join the panel, for various reasons.
He said it’s simply ‘not sexy’ to play for Wicklow and claimed Paraic Duffy’s recent proposal for Championship reform won’t change that as there still won’t be any extra games for weaker counties if it’s adopted.
“It’s got so professional that guys are saying, ‘I’m not going to put in so many hours travelling down from Dublin’, or wherever they are coming from, from one side of the county to the other, four or five nights a week, for what? Two Championship games?
“When you could be at home with family, you could be training, you could be getting on in your job. It’s not sexy, there’s no real benefit in the current structure for being a Wicklow senior footballer.”
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