The 2018 renewal of the Dublin Senior Football Championship got up and running in Parnell Park on Thursday night with one name dominating the conversation at the Donnycarney venue.
Since his last appearance in county colours in Dublin's routine National Football League win over Mayo in Castlebar in February, the footballing future of Diarmuid Connolly has been discussed and debated within the county and beyond.
In the aftermath of Dublin's NFL final win over Galway, Jim Gavin suggested an agreement between Connolly and the Dublin management had been arrived upon where the two-time All-Star takes a break from intercounty fare for the time being.
Irrespective of his future in Dublin blue, the feeling in Marino was that Connolly would welcome a return to his beloved St Vincent’s, a club he has always held close to his heart.
Of course, Connolly captained the side to their fourth county title in five years last autumn and his ties in Páirc Naomh Uinsionn remain as strong as ever but the incessant rumours relating to his non-participation proved well founded
Despite his name appearing on the match programme, in his customary centre-forward position, there was scant surprise as Lorcan Smyth took his place on the '40'.
The writing on the wall was evident last Saturday as he failed to tog out for the club’s hurlers against Raheny in the Dublin Senior Hurling Championship, given he has consistently made himself available for selection across both codes in recent years.
The hurlers coped admirably in his absence when beating Raheny and the same could be said for their footballing counterparts as they cruised past Skerries Harps by 5-18 to 1-9.
Tomás Quinn could well have been expected to suffer in Connolly’s absence, when you consider the almost telepathic understanding the pair have built up in helping their club dominate the club landscape in the capital.
However, there seemed little inconvenience in terms of their attacking fluidity with Quinn netting a brace of first-half goals to complement further goals from Shane Carthy and Cormac Diamond.
Diamond completed his own brace late in the second half to complete a satisfactory night for the holders, who did not wish to elaborate on Connolly’s situation in the immediate aftermath of the game.
What motivation they had for naming Connolly in the match programme is open to debate but one thing that cannot be argued is that his absence from the game is something for all to regret.