Brighton had one of their best results of the season on Sunday, beating Tottenham 1-0. But, in Ireland at least, the result has been overshadowed by a second half miss by Aaron Connolly, and the torrent of social media abuse that followed it.
Connolly failed to convert a chance in the 88th minute of the match. Soon afterwards, his Twitter mentions were flooded with abuse from Brighton supporters and online gamblers who were aggrieved the Galwayman had not made it 2-0.
Andy Naylor of the Athletic reported this morning that a Brighton staff member phoned Connolly to be sure he was okay after the incident. Yesterday, Connolly deleted his Twitter account.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of Brighton's trip to Anfield tomorrow, Brighton manager Graham Potter spoke about Connolly's development since his breakthrough brace against Spurs last season.
He is a young player — when he scored those goals (against Spurs), he was 19 years old. Sometimes you hit the ground running and everything goes really well for you.
“The key — especially to sustaining a career at this level — is to do it week in, week out, and that is the challenge: to help the players do that.
“He has got some really good attributes. He is exciting and we believe in him, but at the same time, he is young and learning to be a Premier League player, a Premier League goalscorer. He has been a little bit unlucky with injuries and one or two things, but that is part of life as a footballer.”
Here again we see social media companies failing society. Why should Connolly have to hear from anonymous numpties after a frustrating day of work? Do these companies not have a duty of care to people who use their platforms?
Connolly turned 21 last week. His development with Brighton has been hampered by injury setbacks this season. Over the summer, he was handed a four-year contract extension by his club and the number 7 jersey. Brighton sit 18th in the Premier League table.