Action speaks louder than words for Aaron Connolly

Aaron Connolly’s directness hasn’t always endeared him to coaches but being able to back it up with a Premier League debut affords the Brighton and Hove Albion winger some latitude.

Action speaks louder than words for Aaron Connolly

Aaron Connolly’s directness hasn’t always endeared him to coaches but being able to back it up with a Premier League debut affords the Brighton and Hove Albion winger some latitude.

The Galway native last week assembled with Stephen Kenny’s Ireland U21 squad on a bounce from his bow against Manchester City and ended it with a skip from his masterclass against Armenia on Friday.

Troy Parrott stole the headlines for supplying the goal in a 1-0 win but it was his supplier from the left wing who had most of the fans at Tallaght Stadium enlivened from the outset.

Similarities with Damien Duff were inevitable. The way in which he toyed with his marker by outpacing him and jinking inside were reminiscent of the teenage Duff in his pomp.

Tomorrow’s workout in Kalmar, where Kenny’s cubs aim to extend their winning European qualification to three matches against Sweden, provides another indicator of the 19-year-old’s ascent.

A man already of independent mind, Connolly is up for the latest of many challenges.

“I didn’t sign for Brighton to go out on loan,” asserts the flanker, who moved cross-channel at 16 from Mervue United.

“The new Brighton manager, Graham Potter, showed his trust in me from when he came in during the summer.

“I got my first run-out against Bristol Rovers and then the Premier League debut last week.

“A lot has happened over the last fortnight for club and country. I’ve really enjoyed it and am ready for this next qualifier in Sweden.”

Although Connolly had been overlooked by Ireland U19 manager Tom Mohan last season, Kenny soon became a fan.

Handed his U21 debut at the Toulon Tournament in June, he sped down the wing inside the first minutes to create the opener of a 4-1 win over China.

According to the speedster, Kenny’s preparation in the build-up to the games is the most impressive aspect of his coaching.

“Even when I gave the ball away on Friday, I didn’t hear one thing from Stephen on the touchline,” explained Connolly.

“He just gives you the freedom to express yourself.

As long as you work hard to get back in and recover the ball, he’s happy.

“We’re all aware that Stephen will be the next senior team manager and we want to help him achieve success before he steps up next year.”

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