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Diarmuid Connolly clinches superb Gaelic football clean sweep for the 2nd time in 4 years

Yesterday’s Leinster club final completed a remarkable five-timer.

Diarmuid Connolly celebrates Tommy Conroy All smiles for Diarmuid Connolly Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DIARMUID CONNOLLY SIGNED off from the 2016 Gaelic football season yesterday in a familiar fashion.

Another final win and another piece of silverware secured.

It’s been another remarkable year of success for Connolly as he’s claimed a stunning five-timer between county and club. With Dublin he won National League, Leinster and All-Ireland medals. With St Vincent’s he claimed Dublin and Leinster titles, with the added bonus of being the club captain.

The only competition the Dublin senior footballers did not win in 2016 was the O’Byrne Cup but then again Connolly didn’t see game time in that competition as he was recovering from an injury.

And when he did make his 2016 bow, he hit net on 30 January as Dublin claimed an opening night league win over Kerry in Croke Park. Since then, the winning ways continued.

It’s not the first time Connolly has managed such a stunning feat, replicating this year what he achieved in 2013.

There are a fair few Kilkenny hurlers who have matched that clean sweep of club and county accolades in one season. In 2003, Martin and Andy Comerford achieved it with Kilkenny and O’Loughlin Gaels.

Andy Comerford lifts the cup 30/11/2003 Andy Comerford after the 2003 Leinster senior club hurling final Source: INPHO

Then there have been those Ballyhale Shamrocks and Cats stars. Henry Shefflin and Michael Fennelly swept the boards in 2006, 2009 and 2014 to carry off five titles.

In 2006 and 2009, they had the company of James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick in those winner enclosures. TJ Reid reached that level in 2009 and 2014, while Joey Holden and Colin Fennelly were similarly successful two years ago.

Henry Shefflin celebrates with the trophy after the game Henry Shefflin celebrates after the 2014 Leinster senior club final Source: James Crombie/INPHO

But Connolly’s football exploits have been magnificent, attaining a level of consistency between Dublin and St Vincent’s to pack those five championship wins in one calendar year.

Here’s his run of major victories in 2016.

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24 April – National League Final – Dublin 2-18 Kerry 0-13

Connolly notched a point in this final to claim the fourth National football league medal of his career. His 1-3 haul against Cork in March was the highlight of his league performances.

Diarmuid Connolly with the cup after the game Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

17 July – Leinster senior final – Dublin 2-19 Westmeath 0-10

Connolly’s clash with James Dolan may have garnered headlines in the provincial decider but he had previously shone with his football displays to help clinch his 10th Leinster title win. Man-of-the-match against Laois and Meath with respective tallies of 1-4 and 0-4, Connolly hit full speed early in the season.

The Dublin players celebrate in front of Hill 16 Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

1 October – All-Ireland final replay – Dublin 1-15 Mayo 1-14

Connolly got his hands on Sam Maguire for the fourth time and generated an array of standout moments in the All-Ireland series, like the glorious late point against Kerry into Hill 16 and holding his nerve to convert that penalty in the replay against Mayo.

Diarmuid Connolly Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

5 November – Dublin senior final – St Vincent’s 0-15 Castleknock 0-10

A special moment for Connolly as he captains St Vincent’s to success and garners his fourth county senior medal in the process. He caused serious damage to Ballymun in the semi-final as he picked off 0-4.

Diarmuid Connolly lifts the trophy Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

11 December – Leinster senior final – St Vincent’s 1-16 Rhode 0-12

The season of glory was rounded off for Connolly yesterday in O’Moore Park. He struck the only goal of the game, finished with 1-2 to his credit and captained St Vincent’s to the club’s seventh Leinster senior crown. 2016, it’s been memorable.

Diarmuid Connolly lifts the trophy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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