DOB: 25 March 1963
From: Shepparton United
Number: 22 (1982-1989)
The midfielder son of Barry Connolly, who had played a season for Footscray in 1958 played in the Under 19 premiership of 1981 before making his senior debut the next season, a year in which he still won the Under 19s Best and Fairest. In 1980 he'd been vice-captain of the Victorian Under 17 side.
After top four Best and Fairest finishes in 1983, 1985 and 1986, Connolly severely injured his knee in Round 5, 1987 and was forced to undergo a left knee reconstruction. He had been brilliant in the first month of the season and seemed to be on track to win the Best and Fairest and be selected to play for Victoria. The injury forced him to miss all of 1988, and he contemplated retirement in the 1989 pre-season before playing 10 games. A right knee injury kept him out of Melbourne's finals campaign, then required a reconstruction that kept him out through 1990.
Connolly started his coaching career as an assistant and runner with the Demons in 1991. He then coached the Eastern Ranges Under 18 side in 1992 and the Victoria Metro side in 1995. In 1996 he joined Hawthorn as Reserves coach and was promoted to assistant under Ken Judge in 1999.
At the end of the 2000 season he nearly landed the St Kilda job before losing out to Malcolm Blight. In Round, 2001 he was called upon to coach the Hawks senior side after Peter Schwab had been sidelined with an irregular heartbeat and won his coaching debut with a kick after the siren.
In 2002 Connolly replaced Damien Drum as coach of Fremantle and took the Dockers to their first ever finals series in 2003. They struggled for the next two years and his leadership was questioned, but in 2006 they made a Preliminary Final - dispatching the Demons along the way. The next year didn't go nearly as well and after Round 20 he resigned as coach.
Connolly applied for the vacant Melbourne coaching job at the end of that year, but was beaten to the role by Dean Bailey. However shortly after he accepted an offer to return to the club as the Football Manager, serving in the role until the end of 2011 when he was moved into a non-football role.
In February 2013 Connolly was suspended for a year by the AFL based on his conduct as Football Manager in 2009 when Melbourne was adjudged to have discussed playing for a priority draft pick. He left the club at the end of the season.
|Round 14, 1984||Striking||Not Guilty|
|Round 22, 1985||Striking||3 matches|
Inside Football - 12/06/1980, 21/02/1990
Age - 24/11/1995
Herald Sun - 11/04/2003