O’Tooles and Connolly both face troubles

by James Hendicott

Struggling O’Toole’s very nearly pulled off a big upset in AHL 1 over the weekend, but fell just short against high flying south-siders St Jude’s in the tightest of contests, as they failed to get their season off the mark.

The Ayrfield club have struggled in Dublin hurling’s top tier this year, and went into the game with Jude’s having lost all four of their previous encounters, though they have faced powerhouse clubs Ballyboden St Enda’s and Na Fianna early in the season.

Jude’s are similarly placed at in the upper echelons of AHL1, but O’Toole’s powered out of the blocks, leading by 1-5 to 0-2 with 15 minutes on the clock, and were still ahead at 1-10 to 0-11 come half time. Fionn O Riain Broin did the damage for Jude’s just after half time, eventually ending with 1-6 to his name, having been a strong contributor in the first half. He slotted a 33rd minute goal that turned the game in Jude’s favour.

The sides were back at deadlock in the 50th minute as O’Toole’s showed impressive resilience in sticking to their task, and stayed at near enough level right into stoppage time, where a Joe McManus point for Jude’s pushed them over the line for a single point win that will frustrate an impressive O’Toole’s who can consider themselves unlucky not to have taken something. The Ayrfield club had even equalised in injury time themselves before McManus’ timing hit the mark.

O’Toole’s are now the only side in AHL1 yet to pick up a league point in 2018, though there’s plenty of time left to gather the points needed to stay at the top table.

Diarmuid Connolly, meanwhile, looks unlikely to make his recently rumoured move over to St Vincent’s hurling, with the former key Dublin man instead heading for the US, according to a number of sources.

Connelly stepped away unexpectedly from the Dublin football panel early this year. He had turned out for Vincent’s in a league contest recently, prompting talk of a switch of first-choice codes on a more regular basis, but this move doesn’t appear to be going ahead.

After Dublin’s win over Offaly in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship, hurling boss Pat Gilroy – also a Vincent’s man – said “He obviously is a loss, but coming so late into the season, he probably has decided he wants a break from everything. I don’t think it will do him any harm.”

“With the footballers, certainly a fella of his class is going to be a loss to them but he’s not been around,” he said. “They will have well and truly moved on from expecting to have him back.”

Gilroy also denied any attempt to bring Connolly into the county hurling panel over the course of Connolly’s time away from football. The star forward’s long-term future remains to be seen, though there have been a few suggestions about his plans for the coming year..

Connolly’s most likely destinations seem to be New York and Boston, according to the Irish Examiner.

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