After yet another impressive season in a Dublin jersey, Diarmuid Connolly has retained that form for his club St Vincent's as they continue to pursue a third successive county title this Sunday.
The talented Connolly contributed five points to Vincent's tally against Na Fianna in the semi-final last weekend, and one of his opponents from that game Jonny Cooper, believes that Connolly's scoring power distinguishes him from the rest of the pack.
Speaking to the Irish Times, Cooper said:
He’s probably up there with the most talented guys I’ve seen, when it comes to left or right feet, and hand-passing, and his ability to probably do every skill in the game at a really high and efficient level. And probably the last couple of years he’s probably stood up to the plate more, and been that leader for Dublin that we needed
Cooper and Connolly have been playing inter-county football together for the past three years and in that time, Cooper has witnessed the upward trajectory of Connolly's game which has moulded him into a prominent player on the Dublin team.
He’s on more of a leadership role. I’ve only been around him for a short period of time so I probably haven’t seen him before I came on it three years ago. But since then he’s been a leader and to the fore both on and off the pitch in terms of the way he trains and prepares and goes about his business coming into games.”
Dublin's recent All-Ireland win over Kerry was exactly one year on from the day when Cooper was the victim of a horrific and unprovoked attack which required treatment for facial cuts. Speaking openly for the first time about the assault, Cooper reflects on how the ordeal instinctively caused him to worry about his future in football.
Initially one of the things that enters your head is, ‘will you be able to put on a pair of boots again?’, and I was quite lucky in that sense that I was able to do that. Everything I got was superficial, so I was extremely lucky from that point of view. It was something more to drive me on than anything else
Jonny Cooper exuded considerable bravery to overcome this incident and a string of exemplary performances for Dublin this season culminated in a well deserved All-Star nomination.