Dublin forward Diarmuid Connolly says he has no regrets over the incident that saw him pick up a yellow card during the Leinster SFC final win over Westmeath and admits he was more frustrated with himself than Westmeath's James Dolan.
Jim Gavin’s side romped home to sixth successive provincial win with a 15-point win at Croke Park, but the Dubs struggled to get their flowing game plan together in the first half and led by just one point at the interval.
The frustration of the Dublin players was evident late in the half when Connolly hauled Dolan to the ground after the Westmeath defender ruffled his hair off the ball.
A melee ensued and referee Fergal Kelly issued yellow cards to both players.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, the 29-year-old said he overstepped the line but was satisfied with the referee's decision.
“That’s not within the rules,” he said when asked about the first-half incident.
“I think the referee dealt with it there and then. I was a bit frustrated, but look, that’s part and parcel of the game as well."
When asked whether the goading was the reason he reacted in the manner in which he did and if he regretted his actions, Connolly was forthright in his view.
“No. It was a yellow card offence.
“I don’t think that was a factor [goading from Westmeath players], I was just more frustrated with how I was playing myself and that’s what happened.”
Speaking after the game, Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin told reporters that the Lake County men had targeted the talented St Vincent’s forward.
"We have to be fair, we have to be honest. We were hoping to try and get someone to entice him, sure that's what most teams do,” he said.
Now in his tenth season with the Dubs, the three-time All-Ireland winner says he is accustomed to opposition efforts to put him off his natural game.
“Most of my inter-county career I’m getting special attention. I just embrace the challenge and take it on.”
With a quarter-final berth now safely assured, the forward says there is still room for improvement – “The first half wouldn’t be good enough to win most Championship games” – but refutes the suggestion that the Dublin defence is a possible chink in the armour.
The loss of Rory O’Carroll and 2015 Player of the Year Jack McCaffrey has forced defensive readjustments, with some observers of the opinion that the full-back line in particular is vulnerable to the high ball.
On paper at least, the scores against tally is improving as the season continues – after conceding 2-10 to Laois in their Leinster opener, they conceded 0-11 to Meath and 0-10 to Westmeath in the decider - and Connolly has no qualms with the rearguard.
“Our defence [against Westmeath] was very solid, we dealt with the high ball. We’re very happy with the defensive structure and the team is playing well.”
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