Football

Aaron Connolly Admits Criticism Has Affected Him After Brighton Departure

Aaron Connolly Admits Criticism Has Affected Him After Brighton Departure

Aaron Connolly has not kicked on in his career in the manner many expected.

A prolific goalscorer at underage level, hopes were high that his transition to senior football would be a smooth one after a brace on his Premier League debut against Spurs.

However, that has not really proven to be the case. While there have been flashes of promise at times, he has also struggled to get a run in the team at Brighton. That is especially true over the last 12 months or so as playing time became increasingly difficult to come by.

It seemed clear that Connolly needed a move away from the Amex this month, something that has now come to fruition after his loan move to Middlesbrough was confirmed in recent days.

He is set to make his debut for the club in the FA cup tie against Mansfield this weekend, and speaking to the media before that game Connolly admitted that the criticism directed at him both on and off the pitch over the last year has affected him.

There’s been stuff said in the media beforehand, probably nothing to do with football really. Most of it is false. You don’t need to believe everything you read.

I don’t know where that comes from. It doesn’t put any more pressure on me. Every game you play your career could be at a crossroads: one minute you could be the best player and another everyone wants you out. I’ve just got to get on with it. It’s the life of being a footballer, I guess...

I want to get back to enjoying football again really, help Middlesbrough as much as I can, score goals and enjoy football.

I want to play football again and be challenging for a starting spot. It (last year) was tough. It was hard to deal with and maybe I did the wrong thing at times and obviously, I wish I could have reacted differently to certain things but I am still learning different aspects of myself on and off the pitch.

That will come and hopefully I can show that to the Middlesbrough fans. I am a footballer and trying to deal with stuff that is being said about you as well as not scoring and not playing is tough. It is all a learning curve. I won’t always start every game, score every game and have a perfect career going forward.

There will be ups and downs. I have had more downs than ups in my Brighton career so in a way this is like a fresh start to come here and get back playing and enjoy football. That is the main thing really.

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It will be interesting to see how Connolly will fare at a lower level in the Championship, although the Galway man should have the ability to thrive in the division.

A fresh start was what was needed for 2022, although he could certainly still have a future at Brighton should he impress at Middlesbrough. He will need to rediscover his goalscoring touch in order to ensure such an outcome, something he is keen to do.

The Premier League is the toughest league in the world and obviously I had a good start scoring two goals (against Tottenham) but after that, it didn’t go as well as planned. But that is part and parcel of football. I am going to be 22 shortly and I am still learning the game.

I want to show people that I can still score goals. It is the reason I got into the Brighton team. I knew after speaking to the gaffer [Chris Wilder] that I wanted to get the move done as soon as possible and not any more games that I need to and get underway and hit the ground running. I am hoping the manager can help me and I can help him and the club can achieve their goals.

At the end of the season that could lead to maybe going up a division, challenging in the play-offs, or even automatic.

I’m here as a Middlesbrough player, I want to help them as much as I can and after that who knows what is going to happen?

Connolly also has his Ireland career to consider, finding himself a bit further down the pecking order under Stephen Kenny as of late having started off as first choice early in the former Dundalk's boss tenure.

Kenny admitted in recent months that he was keen for the 21-year old to go out on loan and get regular football, so you can be sure that he will be keeping a close eye on his progress in the months ahead.

SEE ALSO: Could West Ham Starlet Be The Next Irish Player To Burst Onto The Scene?

Gary Connaughton
Article written by
Beleaguered Westmeath man, constantly trying to recreate the buzz of the 2004 Leinster final replay.

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