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plane crazy Aaron Connolly reveals frustration at missing Slovakia crunch after Covid catastrophe

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Aaron Connolly missed out on the crunch Euro play-off with Slovakia

Aaron Connolly missed out on the crunch Euro play-off with Slovakia

Aaron Connolly missed out on the crunch Euro play-off with Slovakia

Brighton striker Aaron Connolly has blasted those who have claimed that he should have stayed in his seat after the Covid catastrophe which cost him his place in the side that were beaten by Slovakia in last month’s Euro 2020 play-offs.

Connolly, along with team-mate Adam Idah, were ruled out of the Bratislava showdown because they were deemed to be close contacts of an FAI staff member who tested positive for Covid-19 on the morning of the game in Bratislava.

However, it was subsequently confirmed to be a false positive, meaning the pair were entitled to play; yet by the time that was discovered the damage was done.

Stringent HSE rules barred Connolly and Idah from featuring against Slovakia, compounding the frustration as UK regulations, to take just one example, would have allowed him to play.

Some have charged that, had he not taken the decision to switch from a seat allocated to him by the FAI, the entire fuss could have been avoided but the Galwegian was eager to respond to those accusations he shouldn’t have moved.

Republic of Ireland's Aaron Connolly (left) and Finland's Paulus Arajuuri battle for the ball during the Nations League Group 4, League B match

"No and it's frustrating when people say that. I left my seat but I didn't know I was going to sit beside someone who had a positive test," he said.

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Aaron Connolly after loss to Finland

Aaron Connolly after loss to Finland

Aaron Connolly after loss to Finland

"I could have stayed in my seat and someone beside me could have had it and I would have got away with it as I'd moved down the back.

"To see stuff like that is frustrating, even on social media, I moved my seat but how was I meant to know where someone who tested positive was sat?

"I don't look back and think I wish I had sat there. It happened and I've moved on."

His frustration was compounded by the fact the entire country must now sit out next year’s Euros.

"It was tough obviously, like I've said, at 20 years of age I might never get that chance for my country to play in such a big game to get to a tournament," he said.

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"It was obviously frustrating and to find out after that it was a false positive as well was a bit gutting but that is last month and it's all about these three games."

One of these three games is likely to feature him starting up front against England at Wembley in this Thursday's friendly.

The stuff of childhood dreams, perhaps.

Then again, for someone who once wanted to hurl for Galway in Croke Park, and for whom Ray Houghton and Kevin Sheedy are figures as distant as Castlegar giant Joe Connolly, perhaps not.

"I will leave that up to the Irish fans and stuff like that. I'm just focused on another game, a big game and a big one for both countries. I'm sure the Irish fans will see it differently but as players we just want to go out and play and perform," he said.

It will be a fixture imbued with the novelty factor of Gareth Southgate’s squad housing a number of former Irish prospects.

Connolly, for whom troubled Anglo-Irish history means less than it does to some, is also not fussed with a sporting squabble which has nothing to do with him.

"It has nothing to do with me really, it's not my career. Whatever he chose is up to him. For me, I didn't really take much interest in it, it's not my career," he said.

After stalling at Brighton following a flying start - the goals have dried up, too - Connolly has enough to fret about trying to kick-start his own career.



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