Aaron Connolly’s perfect script of a day has ended with the Brighton attacker being called up into the senior Irish squad by Mick McCarthy, replacing Ronan Curtis, the Portsmouth player, who has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.
McCarthy’s gain will be Stephen Kenny’s loss, Connolly would have been seen as an integral part of the Ireland U21’s side as they prepare for their crucial European qualifier against Italy in Tallaght on Thursday night, before travelling to Reykjavík the following Tuesday.
Connolly now however, will be a part of the preparations as Ireland look to consolidate their position as group leaders in Group D of their qualifying group, as they face two difficult away fixtures in Georgia and Switzerland next Saturday and the following Tuesday respectively.
Connolly could offer an alternative to McCarthy on the left, and despite McCarthy saying he would not play the Galway native ahead of James McClean, he does offer a speed fused with creativity that is rare in recent times in the Irish attack. Running at defences with pace and control is something that Ireland may well need to turn to.
But part of how he got there was on the back of a man of the match performance in today’s stunning 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur, as the north London’s side fall-out from their Champions League continued with an abject performance at the Amex stadium.
Connolly’s two goals were the gloss on a performance brimming with energy, pace and creativity.