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.”