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'He didn't punch a player, he didn't walk on anyone. He takes far more abuse than he dishes out'

Mattie Forde has leapt to the defence of the under-fire Diarmuid Connolly.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

FORMER WEXFORD FORWARD Mattie Forde has defended Diarmuid Connolly after his altercation with linesman Ciaran Brannigan in Portlaoise on Saturday night.

Dublin All-Star Connolly could face retrospective action from the Croke Park’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) this week, with speculation mounting that he’ll be hit with a 12-week ban.

Forde has some sympathy for Connolly, who he says is often targeted by opposition during games.

“I think he takes an unbelievable amount of abuse and 90% of it we don’t actually see on television,” he told the RTE GAA Podcast.

“I’ve been at matches and seen. Most teams have done it over the years with good players, they send out someone to get in their face and try and put them off their game. I think the level of abuse that he has to take is above and beyond.

“He has a reputation now of being a bit of a hot head and that, something similar to what I was myself. I don’t think there’s a whole lot in it to be honest. He still could get punished but I think it’d be exceptionally harsh considering what he has to put up with himself.

“I’m not saying that’s an excuse or anything like that. Something similar happened in Tipperary with Evan Comerford. I think a suspension coming out of that would be very, very harsh.

“I think there were other people along the sideline wanting the linesman to raise his flag and flag it.

“But I think more of us got on with playing football rather than try to highlight things that the opposition and players are doing. He didn’t punch a player, he didn’t walk on anyone. As I said I think he takes far more in abuse than he dishes out.”

During his playing days with Wexford, Forde served a three-month suspension for stamping down on the back of the head of Offaly’s Shane Sullivan.

Forde denied it was premeditated and later revealed he almost quit the game after receiving severe criticism.

“It was tough going for a while, taking good bit of abuse about it and probably still do to a lesser extent,” Forde explained.

“I would be very good friends with (Shane) Sullivan now. Having been talking to him about it numerous times, he never had an issue with it and hadn’t from day one in fairness. It’s the one thing that people would nearly always associate with.

“I do still hear it from time to time. That’s just the way it is. I would prefer to see Diarmuid Connolly hitting 50 and 60 year passes with the outside of his left foot, never mind his right foot. When people talk about him, they still talk about stuff he done wrong rather than stuff he done right, which I think is pretty sad.

“I hope he does and I definitely think he will. He’s an outstanding footballer and I think everyone else in the country is the real loser in that we don’t get to actually see him expressing himself properly. That’s the real sad part of it. If there’s anyone tough enough to deal with it at this stage, it’s him.”

Source: RTĖ Sport/SoundCloud

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Kevin O'Brien

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