Diarmuid Connolly - 'After a long season, mentally it gets tough'

The St Vincent’s star is aiming to round off another bumper year in style.

DIARMUID CONNOLLY FINDS himself back in familiar territory.

St Vincent’s are in another Leinster final, chasing their third provincial title in four years. For Connolly, he’s one game away from complete a clean sweep of trophies in 2016.

An O’Byrne Cup defeat to Longford in January aside, a game that Connolly didn’t feature in, he’s had things pretty much his own way this year .

A National League, Leinster title and All-Ireland medal were added to Connolly’s collection with Dublin, while St Vincent’s lifted their 28th Dublin SFC crown last month.

Now he chases a fifth trophy to mirror his remarkable achievement in 2014. For Connolly, such a long season takes its toll mentally as well as physically.

“Not just the body,” he said at the AIB GAA Leinster Senior Football Club Championship Final Media Day.

“Mentally you’d be tired after a year like this. I’ve been lucky enough not to get too many injuries – bumps and bruises but nothing that’s kept me out for long periods. After a long season, mentally it gets tough. Absolutely but hopefully a holiday after next week will recharge the batteries.”

His last championship defeat for club or county came over a year ago when Ballyboden stunned the three-in-a-row chasing Vinnies and went on to lift the Andy Merrigan Cup on St Patrick’s Day.

“Last year we were massively disappointed but Ballyboden were a complete unknown, no one gave them a snowball’s in the final but they beat us on merit.

“I said it before the county final that it was a hard thing to take, we were obviously going for three-in-a-row and a bit of history.”

This time around Vincent’s made no mistake against underdogs Castleknock in the county final. Much of that was down to the evergreen 36-year-old Tomas Quinn, who kicked five points, two from play.

AIB GAA Leinster Football Club Championship Final Media Day Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

“When I started off I was more of an inside forward, I would’ve watched him very closely and learned a lot off him to be honest, he’s probably one of the best finishers and still is.

“He mightn’t thank me for this but it’s the pace probably that lets him down. Obviously getting a little bit older the game is getting quicker, yeah he’s been massive for us this year.

“He got man of the match in the county final, 36 years of age, if I’m 36 years of age and doing that I’ll be pretty happy.

“(His longevity is) down to him looking after himself really well, getting the work done, getting the gym work done, eating right, not acting the maggot really. His free-taking for us has been exceptional the last ten or 15 years with Vincent’s.”

“His father was 41 when he won a Dublin senior hurling medal with Vincent’s so there’s pedigree.”

It’s still unusual to see Connolly on media duty, this outing his third press event the last six months. But he’s happy to take on the responsibility as the skipper of Vincent’s.

“I’m captain and I’m representing Vincent’s so that’s it.

“It’s a massive honour to be asked to represent the group, especially a group that means so much to me and we’ve won so much together that to be asked to represent them is an honourable thing.

“I’m not blind to media. When it’s coming up to big games and there’s pressure I tend not to read the papers or listen to too much radio because I just like to listen to what’s happening inside (the camp.)”

Vincent’s face a Rhode outfit seeking their first ever provincial title. The Marino club easily disposed of the Offaly champions two years ago, but on Sunday Connolly expects a more difficult contest.

“We played them a couple of years ago in the same competition. I was speaking to Niall (McNamee) there and they’re flying, it’ll be a big challenge for us playing them guys.

“I know they’ve won county titles probably more easily than we have in the last couple of years and they’re obviously stalwarts of the Leinster campaign and it’ll be a big challenge for us.”

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