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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 24 January, 2020

Irish teenager Connolly named Premier League 2 Player of the Year

The 19-year-old says his aim now is to break into Brighton’s first team.

Connolly on the bench for Brighton's first team in the Carabao Cup at the start of this season.
Connolly on the bench for Brighton's first team in the Carabao Cup at the start of this season.
Image: Gareth Fuller

THIS SEASON’S PREMIER League 2, the English top flight’s U23 equivalent, Player of the Year has gone to Aaron Connolly. 

The 19-year-old Brighton forward enjoyed an incredible first half to the campaign — scoring 11 goals and creating two assists in 15 league appearances.

On the final day of the January transfer window, Galway native Connolly went on loan to Luton Town for the remainder of the season but a hamstring injury restricted him to just two appearances for the League One champions.  

However, his exploits for the Seagulls have earned him this individual award as the reserve division’s best player. 

The former Mervue United schoolboy saw off competition from eight other players on the shortlist, including fellow Irish youngsters Adam Idah of Norwich City and Southampton midfielder Will Smallbone. 

“It’s a good personal achievement,” said the Ireland U19 international. “If someone told me at the start of the season, I would have laughed at it. It’s just been an unbelievable season — personally and for the team. 

I think I have to see myself pushing on to the first team here. I think that’s everyone’s ambition if you’re in the academy here. 

“I want to play for the first team at Brighton. If not that, hopefully I can play for a first team somewhere else permanently. But right now my ambition is to play for this first team. 

“Hopefully I can do that in the next few years.”

Gavan Casey, Murray Kinsella and Andy Dunne look at Ireland’s past in Super Rugby, the creative shift needed in Irish rugby and Peter O’Mahony tells us about his love of gardening:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Ben Blake

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