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'Me and Mr Gilroy had a bit of a falling out' - Diarmuid Connolly on quitting the Dublin panel in 2010

Connolly credits Gilroy with changing the mentality of the Dublin football squad during his time in charge.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THEY MIGHT BOTH be St Vincent’s men, but Diarmuid Connolly and Pat Gilroy have had a combustible relationship in the past when it came to the Dublin football squad.

Connolly was famously sent home by Gilroy from a La Manga training camp in January 2009 for missing an early morning session.

After making just one substitute appearance in the 2010 league, Connolly failed to see action against Wexford or Meath in the Leinster championship and subsequently walked away from the panel following the heavy defeat to the Royals.

“In 2010 me and Mr Gilroy had a bit of a falling out,” Connolly said on the Hill 16 Army’s Blue is the Colour podcast last night.

“It mightn’t have been documented in the media or anything like that but I stepped away after the Leinster semi-final.

“In hindsight it was probably the wrong thing to do. We had played so badly against Meath, the five goals, the changing of our defence and maybe the making of our defence in some sort of way.

“Then the guys had a great run through the qualifiers and should have beat Cork in my opinion, very unlucky not to beat Cork. Cork got a handy All-Ireland beating Down in the final that year.

“In 2011 I came back with a bit between my teeth really. I actually played my best year – that and 2013 were probably my best years of football with Dublin. 2011 was special, even the way we came back in the final. It was never going to happen in a better way. It was class.”

Pat Gilroy hugs Diarmuid Connolly An emotional Pat Gilroy hugs Diarmuid Connolly after their All-Ireland win in 2011 Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Gilroy has since taken charge of the Sky Blue hurlers, with Mickey Whelan and Anthony Cunningham part of his impressive backroom team.

Connolly credits Gilroy with changing the mentality of the Dublin football squad as they went from also-rans to All-Ireland champions. Their Sam Maguire success in 2011 opened the flood gates for the four titles achieved under Gilroy’s successor Jim Gavin.

“We shored up the back and that was the starting of it,” he said. “Pat Gilroy was massive in that part of it and setting up a system at the back. I’m not saying we done a mass defence or anything like that but everybody had their role and knew their role.

“And then detailing the opposition and who their threats are as well. We weren’t doing that in the past. Pat and Mickey had a massive part to play in that.

“That was the change – it was a change in psyche for forwards who never tackled. And then you realise, if Bernard Brogan tackles he’s one of our best tacklers on the team.”

Pat Gilroy and Mickey Whelan Pat Gilroy and Mickey Whelan Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Connolly recalled a 2010 league meeting against Tyrone, where Brogan dispossessed a defender late on and set-up his brother Alan for a goal in the 2-14 to 1-11 victory.

“I was speaking to Pat about this a year or two ago. Mickey Harte came up to him after the game and said something like, ‘That’s something different.’

“And that was something different. We changed our psyche as in we’re all part of the process, we’re all part of the team, we’re all doing it together. Not only we’re attacking together, but we’re fucking defending together.

“That was the change. It was a change in mindset more than anything else. We can all tackle and work hard but we weren’t doing it together and when we started to do that we started seeing the rewards which was brilliant.”

Thomas Connolly Thomas Connolly in action for Dublin in the 2017 Bord na Mona Walsh Cup Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The two-time All-Star is also a talented hurler, but has already ruled out the possibility of a dual role in 2018. However his younger brother Thomas will be pushing for a place under Gilroy in the coming season.

“There’s a younger version of me there this year, Thomas is playing with them, my little brother. He was in with them last year and Pat has called him in again this year so he’s delighted.

“He’s training away really hard with them. He was a forward growing up but he’s kind of gone into wing-back. He was really good for the club this year.”

Listen to the full podcast below…

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