When Diarmuid Connolly is playing for Dublin he is always one of the most talked about footballers in the country.
And when he isn’t playing for Dublin he is probably the most talked about footballer in the country. The big question so far in 2018 has been ‘where’s Dermo?’.
Connolly has made just one short appearance for the Dubs this season, as a substitute in the comfortable win over Mayo in Allianz Football League Division 1.
According to manager Jim Gavin the 30-year-old is ‘being rested’ and his batteries should be well recharged by now.
The St Vincent’s man has played just a handful of football games in the last ten months. In May he picked up a 12-week suspension for putting his hand on linesman Ciaran Branagan as the Boys in Blue beat Carlow in the Leinster Championship.
After that he made substitute appearances in the All-Ireland semi-final and final adding up to less than an hour.
Then he was on club duty with St Vincent’s, which ended with a Dublin title and a surprise provincial quarter-final defeat to Wicklow champions Rathnew.
And since then there was his brief run against Mayo and that’s been just about that.
Connolly hasn’t been training with Dublin recently and it’s uncertain whether or not we’ll see him in a sky blue jersey again this year – or ever again, for that matter.
Earlier in the year there was speculation that he might be lured into joining up with the county’s hurlers, now under the charge of former Dubs football boss Pat Gilroy and his righthand man Mickey Whelan.
Connolly, Gilroy and Whelan are all Vincent’s men and share that bond, though as the weeks have worn on the chances of a switch to the small ball seem more remote.
Gavin and Connolly are two men who play their cards close to their chest and neither have made any public utterances on the current situation, besides Gavin’s comments about the player ‘resting’.
It’s unlikely that the darling of the Hill was impressed at being kept on the bench for so long in his comeback game last summer, the All-Ireland semi-final win over Tyrone.
That game was over long before the end, yet he wasn’t introduced until the final minute of normal time.
He was held in reserve for the All-Ireland final against Mayo too and wasn’t the first substitute brought in when wing-back Jack McCaffrey went off injured eight minutes in. Paul Flynn went in as part of a reshuffle in midfield and defence, but was taken off again before the end.
Connolly did come in at the break in place of Eoghan O’Gara, a surprise inclusion from the start, and after finding his feet he kicked a vital point and won the free that Dean Rock slotted over in stoppage time to secure a 1-17 to 1-16 win.
Dublin already have a lengthy injury list, with McCaffrey still out alongside the likes of Cian O’Sullivan and Bernard Brogan so starting the defence of their Leinster and All-Ireland titles without one of the most influential players in the game isn’t ideal.
Connolly, who lists cult US boxer Eric 'Butterbean' Esch as his childhood sporting hero on the official Dublin GAA website, made his debut in blue in the 2007 League fixture against Tyrone, the first game under lights at Croke Park.
And he shone pretty brightly too, kicking point a from play early on as well as converting a pair of frees.
Paul Caffrey was in charge then and he left the Dubs panel in 2010 following what he termed ‘me and Mr Gilroy having a bit of a falling out’ when talking to the Hill 16 Army podcast last year.
He was back in harness in 2011 and has gone on to win five All-Ireland titles, really coming of age in that year’s win over Kerry in the decider with a masterful display of ball-winning and distribution in the second half when his side came from four points down to claim a memorable victory.
Connolly has strength and size, pace and power. He has two wonderful feet, knows when to hold it, when to give it. He wins his own ball and has an eye for a score. In other words, he’s the complete package and looks comfortable in any jersey from eight-to-15.
Winning four Sam Maguires in-a-row won’t be easy for Dublin and they’d be in better shape if they were facing into that task with one of their most experienced, able players.
Follow the action in all of this weekend's Allianz Football League finals and Allianz Hurling League semi-finals in our live blogs on rté.ie/sport and on the News Now app.
There will be commentary and updates from those games on Saturday Sport and Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1, with highlights on RTÉ 2 Television from 9.30pm on Allianz League Sunday.