Dunfermline Athletic

Pars Big Yin bows out on a high

Sunday, 16th Jan 2022

Connolly marks what is likely to be his last Dunfermline appearance with a win, a clean sheet and three precious points.

Mark Connolly has played every minute of every one of his 14 starts for Dunfermline since joining on loan from Dundee United on 29th September. His loan period came to an end after the Hamilton match and he hoped that the win and the three points could be seen as a parting present.

The 30 year old central defender missed the defeat at Cappielow the previous week with a quad problem but his manager, John Hughes had made it clear to him just how much he had been missed and that he wanted the Irishman back for the visit of Hamilton Accies on Saturday. Mark said that he had made it a priority to make sure that he was back since it looked like his last game.

“If it is my last game I am delighted to leave on a clean sheet and a win because it was a much needed win. It is difficult when you are losing games. We have a young team and it is tough going home every weekend especially after the last game. I was sitting at home watching the game and it was tough watching it. If that does end up being my last game I am delighted that I could leave on a win and a clean sheet.”

Mark showed phenomenal commitment to the cause giving 100% right up until the final whistle making a block with his head to keep out the Lanarkshire side’s final chance. He could have been forgiven for looking after himself in his last Pars appearance but he put his body on the line throughout and had fans calling for an encore as he waved goodbye:-

“It is one of those things. There is stuff in the background that could be happening, it is not finalised so it is always in the back of your mind especially when you are older and the way football goes, it is difficult.

“Since I have come here I have had a priority to make sure that I do well for Dunfermline. Honestly there are some amazing people here at this club working hard behind the scenes to get it right. Since the manager has come in he has been brilliant.”

There was no sign of any holding back and his crucial header at the end was typical of Mark who described his play as “full throttle

“Unfortunately that’s my problem, I can’t really go half hearted because that’s not my game. If I do, then I will play pretty bad. I thought to myself ‘just get a result, hopefully with a clean sheet’ which I did, and then do whatever comes next. I am still waiting to see what happens fully. I am just delighted that we won today.”

Asked if there was any chance of him staying at Dunfermline, Mark could only add:-

“Until everything is finalised, there are talks at the moment. I need to speak to Dundee United, my loan finishes tomorrow. The manager spoke to me and made it clear to me that his priority would be for me to stay. I need to sit down, there is family stuff that I need to look at.

“It is not that I don’t want to be at this football club, there are other things that are big factors in life so I just have to wait and see what happens.”

The big factor in the life of Dunfermline Athletic right now is to climb away from the relegation zone. Mark hoped that the club would retain its place in the Championship and felt confident since he had great faith in everyone at the club:-

“There are definitely the right people in charge, good people in charge and good people like I said behind the scenes. There is a young team there that sometimes they are a little naive but generally they are good boys who want to do well and they hurt when they are not winning.”

In his three and a half months at East End Park Mark won three, drew six and lost five of the matches he played for the Pars but in those 14 matches he saw bright futures for the club:-

“On Saturday you saw young Matty Tod, Dan Pybus, Paul Allan, they were outstanding and they worked so hard. That is what you need but you need that every game. The club is desperately trying to get players in all the time and it is difficult but the big thing, even when I was coming from Dundee United, the big thing was Dunfermline.”

The 6’1” defender had gathered a vast amount of first team experience at Crawley Town, Kilmarnock as well as at Dundee United before he arrived in time for his debut against Raith Rovers on 29th September. Dunfermline sat at the bottom of the table and of course that is still the situation despite a flurry that took them as high as sixth in November. He claimed that the league position when he arrived was not relevant and recommended that the side had to get stuck in every week and that would move them away from their current unsavoury position:-

“I didn’t really care about the position of the club, it was Dunfermline Football Club, it is a big football club and it is a club that I think should be in the Premiership. A lot of people have said it over the years but it takes hard work and getting the right recruitment, right players in and working hard.

“Obviously you need a bit of quality but you need to roll your sleeves up. I think the boys did that against Hamilton but it just can’t be a one off every so often, it needs to be every week that is how you win leagues and win games and get out of relegation trouble. I certainly hope so.”

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