IRN-BRU SFL PHENOMENAL YOUNG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: AIDAN CONNOLLY (Queen's Park)
Queen’s Park’s 17-year-old winger Aidan Connolly had to wait until his school day was over at Glasgow’s Williamwood High before he could pick up December’s IRN-BRU Phenomenal Young Player of the Month Award at Hampden.
Despite his starring role in the Spiders first team, an appearance live on Sky Sports against Rangers and this Award, Connolly is no superstar either in the playground or at home.
The son of former striker Paddy Connolly, who played for Dundee United and St. Johnstone as well as a further 5 clubs in a 12 year playing career said: “My pals at school have been saying well done for playing in the first team but it is no big deal as they are playing for Raith Rovers and Hamilton Accies in their Youth teams.”
“They have been involved with Scotland Schoolboys and their Centenary Shield game with England is live on Sky so they won’t let me get big headed. Mind you I pretty level headed anyway about my football as my Dad keeps me that way.”
Connolly is now up to 8 first team appearances and 3 goals but he is not being allowed to get complacent as he explained: “My dad has told me that it is easy to get into the first team but the hard part is staying there. He knows there are a lot of good players at Queen’s Park so he tells me to keep working.”
“I am too young to remember him as a player and he has given all the stuff he collected in his career to my gran but he is always showing me clips of himself on YouTube. I have seen the goal he never got against Partick Thistle when the ball hit the back stanchion quite a few times.”
Young Connolly added: “He looked like a decent player so hopefully I will get to the top level like he did. He is the assistant manager at Alloa so does not see me play that often but he was here when I made my debut on a Friday Night and now I am showing him action of me on the internet.”
The Rangers game on December 29 brought Connolly to a nationwide audience as he provided the spark the Hampden side needed after team-mate Jamie Brough had been sent off and he took it all in his stride despite the 30,000 plus crowd.
Connolly explained: “The Rangers game was huge and I was more nervous about being included in the squad that I was about playing. I went on and just got into things straight away and we almost scored when I put Lawrence Shankland through.”
“I was surprised that he missed the chance as he is such a good finisher and then it was a horrible end when they scored. What made it worse is that I know Fraser Aird from playing against him in Youth games so whilst he was delighted with his winner I was not so.”
Just 2 months ago Connolly was scheduled to be in Spain at the beginning of January with the rest of the Queen’s Park youth squad that are enjoying a two week training camp courtesy of the European Community Funded Programme, however he was pulled out of the trip and he has no regrets at all.
“I was meant to be in the sun for two weeks but because I am in the first team I have stayed in Glasgow,” said Connolly before adding, “I am delighted with that as I want to remain in the first team from here on in.”
“I sat my Highers last year and am back studying for more but I have not applied for University or anything just now. I am committed to my football and enjoy being in the first team where Gardner Speirs has been an excellent coach.”
Connolly added: “Playing at Hampden week in and week out is a great feeling and to do so in front of 30,000 is pretty special. I will need to reach a Cup final to top that.”