A

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football -

QHow does he play?

His se­cond goal against Spurs was rem­i­nis­cent of Thierry Henry, his boy­hood idol, but it is Keane whom Con­nolly most closely re­sem­bles. The lad from Gal­way has the same habit, an­noy­ing for op­po­nents, de­light­ful for man­agers, of “rat­ting away” at de­fend­ers, as one of his for­mer youth coaches put it. At 5ft 9in, he is not big nor blis­ter­ingly quick but, like Keane, he runs in be­hind de­fend­ers and finds space be­tween them. He gave the Tot­ten­ham back­line, and Toby Alder­weireld in par­tic­u­lar, a tor­rid time.

Q AHow did Brighton get him? Con­nolly (right) was spot­ted as a 16-yearold by Brighton scout John Mor­ling while play­ing for Mervue United in Gal­way. De­spite in­ter­est from As­ton Villa, Ip­swich Town, Southamp­ton and, even, Manch­ester United, Con­nolly chose Brighton, a club with a strong Ir­ish links, then led by Chris Hughton. He scored goals in the youth ranks for club and coun­try and had a short loan spell at Lu­ton last sea­son. When Gra­ham Pot­ter re­placed Hughton in the sum­mer, he pro­moted Con­nolly to his first-team squad. “I was aware he scored goals in the un­der-23 league, where he was pro­lific,” Pot­ter said. “He’s got pace and he is a good fin­isher. A young player mak­ing his de­but in the Pre­mier League with two goals is im­pres­sive.” Con­nolly is sim­ply grate­ful Pot­ter has given him a chance. “He trusts me and thank­fully I can

AIni­tially, Con­nolly’s fo­cus is on the Repub­lic of Ire­land, for whom he has now re­ceived his first se­nior call-up. He could face Ge­or­gia and Switzer­land in the forth­com­ing Euro 2020 qual­i­fiers. “It’s a dream come true to play in the Pre­mier League, hav­ing watched it since I was four or five years old,” he said. “To be play­ing in it and scor­ing is in­de­scrib­able.”

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