Jonny Cooper: Diarmuid Connolly remains ‘focused’

Dublin defender Jonny Cooper says he has noticed ‘intent’ and a strong ‘focus’ from suspended colleague Diarmuid Connolly to return to action later this summer.

All-Star forward Connolly is a month into a 12-week ban for laying his hand on linesman Ciaran Branagan during the back to back All-Ireland champions’ Leinster quarter-final win over Carlow.

It had been a grey area whether the ban extended to training with Dublin, and Ciaran Kilkenny, another Dublin forward, declined to comment when asked last week if Connolly was still part of the group.

Cooper said that Connolly has taken a limited role in collective training and observed an apparent determination on the part of the St Vincent’s man to return for an All-Ireland semi-final, if the team make it that far.

“Diarmuid is around, but not around for everything and I think he’s on his own programme as well,” said Cooper.

“He’s involved in the training aspects, as in the on-field things.

“There’s a lot of intent there in him, a lot of focus. I’m sure he’s had a lot of distractions in the last couple of weeks so I’m sure he’s trying to stay in his own bubble and in the Dublin senior football train of thought.

It looks to me like he’s very focused on trying to get back into the team if we are to progress.

“He’s been very open about the whole thing and he’s put his hands up and said he shouldn’t have done it.

I think he’s just trying to accept this is the reality, maybe lend a shoulder towards other people now that they have the opportunity to play, offer his experience to them. So yeah, focused would be a good word.”

Boss Gavin caused some surprise after their Leinster semi-final defeat of Westmeath when he attacked The Sunday Game and, pundit Pat Spillane, for commentary regarding Connolly. Three-time All-Ireland winner Cooper was more conciliatory.

”I think, ultimately, they were just commenting on what they seen,” said three-time All-Ireland winner Cooper. “It was just comment on what they seen and that’s part of what they are paid to do.”

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