Aaron Connolly should not have a problem if things get physical for club or country.

The Albion striker, who hopes to make his international debut today, used to excel in the tough Gaelic sport of hurling.

Connolly also won an all-Ireland title in Gaelic football, which itself is no picnic, as a kid. Then the football we are more familiar with really kicked in.

The rest is fast becoming history with a new chapter, perhaps, to be written in Tbilisi this afternoon or in Geneva on Tuesday.

Connolly’s dad Mike will be following the potential next chapter.

He caught an early flight to Gatwick on the off-chance last Saturday and it ended up being an inspired decision.

Mike was at the Amex to see his boy’s first Prem start and first two goals. As he took in the action, proud Dad knew the story might have been a lot different.

At one stage a decade or less ago, it seemed he would be watching Aaron fulfil his sporting dreams at Croke Park in Dublin rather than across the Irish Sea if, indeed, those dreams were ever realised.

Connolly senior said: “He loved hurling, it was his first love I suppose. I’m involved with coaching and training with Castlegar for the last 15 years myself.

“Then he fell in love with football and concentrated on that.

“He has made a lot of sacrifices to get to where he is at, and we are very proud of him.”

Aaron was regarded as a decent hurler with his local club in Castlegar, in the northern outskirts of Galway.

He won an All-Ireland under-14 title in Gaelic football with Claregalway. But there was plenty of association football too.

His first club was Maree/Oranmore FC, from under-six to under-12, before joining Mervue United in Galway, where his elder brothers Andrew and Ethan still play.

Away from the club scene, he twice won the FAI Schools Cup with Calasanctius College, where he completed his full five years before heading to England.

But it was his goals for Mervue which caught the eyes of clubs in England, including Albion.

Mike recalls trials with a few clubs but said: “He was scouted for Brighton by Mark Anderson, who is now a scout for Manchester United.

“So we went over, met the people there and it just felt like the right fit.

“The academy, under John Morling, was very impressive. It was relatively new, and it just had this wonderful feel to it.

“John would have worked previously in the Irish under-age set-up so we knew he would be in good hands.

“Everything about Brighton just felt right. The academy, the people there, the Amex Stadium itself is wonderful.”

It was certainly wonderland for the Connolly family last weekend.

They had no inside info that Aaron would start against Spurs.

Mike said: “I just took a chance in travelling over, to be honest.

“He only found out on the day that he was going to start.

“About an hour-and-a-half, maybe two hours, before the game, that’s when he was told, so we didn’t know in advance. It was great to be there, and to see him do so well.

“It was so exciting, I didn’t even think to get a photo with him, and I was flying back home that evening after the game.

“Aaron rang me to say Mick McCarthy had phoned him to say he was calling him up to the senior squad for the two qualifying games against Georgia and Switzerland. It’s just brilliant.

“It’s also a case of being in the right place at the right time.

“You have to get the breaks and thankfully things are going his way.

“You could be the best player in the world but just not get the breaks.

“Aaron is with a very good club in Brighton. He loves it there and he’s doing well.”

It’s handy for Gatwick, too. Mike will be forever thankful for that after seeing the match of a lifetime.