'It's out of my control what other teams try to do to me' - Diarmuid Connolly

The three-time All-Ireland winner was responding to claims that Westmeath specifically targeted him during the Leinster final.

Image: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Updated at 08.00

TOM CRIBBIN’S REVELATION that Westmeath specifically tried to rise Diarmuid Connolly during the Leinster final surprised some people, but it wasn’t a shock to the man himself.

Connolly generally keeps his temper under wraps much better than his early days on the inter-county scene, but every now and again an opponent manages to get under his skin and draw a reaction.

Last September, Lee Keegan admitted he instigated the incident that led to Connolly’s dismissal in the drawn All-Ireland semi-final, while last Sunday it was Westmeath’s James Dolan who poked the bear and sparked a melee.

Dolan ran his fingers through Connolly’s hair and found himself in a headlock. Three Westmeath players quickly arrived on the scene and descended on the St. Vincent’s man. Both Dolan and Connolly received yellow cards for their troubles.

“It is very much out of my control what other teams are trying to do to opposition players,” was Connolly’s calm assessment of the incident. “I just have to embrace that and try play my own game, that’s all I can do.”

Diarmuid Connolly Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

When it was put to Connolly that he’s a marked man on the field, he brushed it off as part of the modern game.

“So they’re saying. I didn’t hear the comments after the game, a couple of people have obviously told me this morning.

“You expect that, it’s inter-county football, people are there to win. They’re trying to do their best. That’s the challenge you face, that’s the challenge I face when I’m playing and it’s something I embrace.”

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The Dublin vice-captain was also sent-off after being provoked into retaliation by Donegal in the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final, but he feels better equipped to deal with the special attention nowadays.

“Not really, no. I’ve learned to deal with it, a little bit. You just have to take it play by play and try get on the ball and make things happen.

“Of course, you learn. You are more experienced, this is my tenth inter-county season now. You learn and grow as you get older I suppose.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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