herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Vinnies just far too experienced

The Marino men are old dogs for the hard provincial road and won't fall short

Tomas Quinn
Tomas Quinn

Normally, a club team can be patted down and examined for potential by simply glancing at their team-sheet and listing the county players.

For St Vincent's, though, their identity exists far beyond the nationally recognised names.

Three Dublin SFC titles in four years at a time when football in the county has never been as good or as competitive is an achievement that goes far beyond the direct influence of their inter-county representation.

Diarmuid Connolly is the perfect case in point.

Granted, he has had days for Vincent's - most memorably, the 2014 All-Ireland club final - when he has dominated the games by sheer virtue of the fact that he got on the ball many times and on every time did something that ranged from useful to devastating.

But oftentimes he just appears in games when Vincent's need him.

The county final wasn't Connolly's most involved afternoon in his club jersey, yet he still dominated the highlights reel with those air-cutting, defence-prizing passes to Tomás Quinn in the second half.

And in his black card-enforced absence for about 45 minutes of their Leinster opener against Palatine, Vincent's still managed to clock up a double-scores win.

Which may be the most impressive thing about this team.

A side that has Connolly to win them the game is highly dangerous. One that doesn't necessarily need him to do so is very impressive.

Dramatic

The same goes for Quinn and Ger Brennan. Quinn is perhaps the most consistent forward in the past 20 years of Dublin club football but his best vintage wasn't really required until the county final this year.

Former Dublin centre-back Brennan is no longer quite as dominant or as mobile, yet he kicked a peach of a late score against Ballymun Kickhams and made a couple of vital defensive hits against Castleknock in the Dublin final, before being dismissed (second yellow) when a goal might have made the closing minutes more dramatic.

Those three have been Vincent's heavy lifters through all this recent success, yet those around them don't shirk anything.

Hugh Gill and Nathan Mullins have been two of Vincent's most effective defenders of late, yet without both through injury over the past few months, the team barely skipped a beat.

Enda Varley has proved a useful addition up front in an attack that needed another dimension.

Yet it is completely plausible that Ruairí Trainor and/or Gavin Burke could take the slack the next day.

Their work ethic is strong. They've more experience than anyone and they have the look of a team now who have seen everything.

And probably, they have.

Of course, no-one sees the knock-out punch coming, otherwise it wouldn't have much purchase but whatever other clubs with provincial ambitions might have in store for Vincent's in their quest to win a third All-Ireland in seven years, winning here should be out of reach for Longford's St Columba's.

A two-point win over Westmeath champions St Loman's was wholly unpredicted.

In James McGivney, they have a forward very much in scoring form but St Vincent's should be too experienced, too wise and just too good to fall here.

ODDS: St Columba's 15/2, Draw 12/1, St Vincent's 1/12

VERDICT: St Vincent's

ST COLUMBA'S v ST VINCENT'S, Pearse Park, Tomorrow, 2.00pm

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