Cool-hand Luke taking it all in his stride for Nemo

Cool-hand Luke taking it all in his stride for Nemo
Luke Connolly celebrates the first of his goals. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

LUKE CONNOLLY must have felt like that person waiting an age for the bus to come and then two come along together.

He was the star of Nemo Rangers' 5-13 to 0-12 county senior football championship semi-final win over Duhallow at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday, scoring a hat-trick in a 3-3 haul.

Connolly, the 24-years-old Elverys Sport employee, hadn't scored three goals in adult football before and he completed his impressive haul with a first penalty of 2017.

“I'd say we're looking at under-age for the last hat-trick. I've got two a few times, but never three, so it's a bit of landmark, especially in a game like this,” he said.

Connolly pounced for his opener after 22 minutes, having set-up Paddy Gumley for the first, and added his second just a minute on the resumption.

“The first goal was a big one because it came just before half-time and the second was just after half-time, so they were good scores to get.

“We knew Duhallow would try and come out strong at the start of the second-half and hold us scoreless, but the third goal killed them.” 

A foul on substitute Colm Kiely seven minutes from the end resulted in the penalty, which Connolly tucked away confidently, low and hard to the bottom corner.

Luke Connolly slots home his penalty. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Luke Connolly slots home his penalty. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“I've been waiting for a penalty all year because we hadn't got one until Sunday. There's a bit of an argument about who'd take them and I was glad Paul Kerrigan was gone at that stage because he would have taken it.

“I shouldn't be saying this I suppose, but I go the same way all the time. Yet, penalties are the luck of the draw really.” 

Connolly's total equalled his 0-9 return from the previous game against UCC though in contrasting fashion.

Then, he kicked all his points from placed balls, six frees and two '45s, in addition to one from play.

“It's nice to contribute from play, though I'm not too pushed about it really because if there's somebody else getting on the score sheet that's fine, once we're winning.

“The lads deserve a lot of the credit because I was only getting on the end of moves.” 

Connolly is in scintillating form at the moment. He might wear 13, but Connolly has a freedom to roam all over the pitch and his finishing reflects his high rating.

Yet, as he pointed out, it's not always the case. “As a forward there's nothing worse, when things aren't going well for you. It's the loneliest place in the world.

“I benefit from playing in the kind of forward line we have in Nemo because if I have an off-day, there's always Paul or Barry O'Driscoll.

“We have seven or eight forwards who can shoot the lights out any day, so it's great to be playing in a forward line like that.

“We have fellows coming off the bench, like Conor Horgan and Adrian Greaney, who came in and kicked a great score at the end," Connolly said.

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