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'I thought someone was on a wind-up' - Connolly's whirlwind week with Brighton and Ireland

The Galway teenager scored his first two Premier League goals last Saturday, and now is in line to make his senior international debut.

Source: FAI TV/YouTube

AARON CONNOLLY IS name on everyone’s lips after the 19-year-old took the Premier League by storm last weekend. 

Having made a number of substitute league appearances for the Seagulls, the forward started up front against Tottenham on Saturday and repaid manager Graham Potter with two brilliant goals in a 3-0 win

Irish fans have been getting excited about the Galway native’s talents for some time due to his performances at underage for Ireland — most recently with Stephen Kenny’s U21s — and for Brighton in the Premier League 2, where he won Player of the Year last season. 

Hours after his brace at the AMEX Stadium, Connolly was promoted to Ireland’s senior squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 double-header against Georgia and Switzerland. 

“I’d just dropped my dad to Gatwick Airport and I was on my way back to my girlfriend’s house when one of the boys from Brighton text me saying the gaffer [Mick McCarthy] was looking for my number,” Connolly told FAI  TV. 

“I kind of thought someone was on a wind-up, but after a few minutes I realised that it was definitely the gaffer calling.

It’s the proudest moment anyone can ask for, as a 19-year-old Irish kid who wants to play for his country. It was just mad when I got the call… I was speechless for a couple of minutes. 

“I rang my parents and they were both shocked. I had been named in the provisional squad but they probably didn’t expect me to be called in. When I was, they were both proud.”

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aaron-connolly-and-enda-stevens Connolly and Enda Stevens during training this week. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Connolly has spent the week getting to know his international team-mates at the FAI’s National Training Centre in Dublin, where he has described the sessions as “intense”. 

After travelling with the Mick McCarthy’s men to Tbilisi, he won’t be available for the U21s in their crucial qualifier against Italy at Tallaght Stadium tonight. 

However, the teenager could potentially cap a remarkable seven days off by making his senior international bow away to Georgia on Saturday afternoon (2pm). 

In terms of his favoured position, Connolly sees himself as a centre forward first and foremost, but he is happy to slot in anywhere if picked. 

“I’m a striker at Brighton,” he added. “I’ve never played out wide there, I’ve always been a No 9 since I first got over there. 

“When I come away with Ireland, I go out onto the left or the right. Obviously, I’m more comfortable as a No 9 but I don’t mind playing wherever if it gets me into the starting 11.”

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Ben Blake

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