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Monday 5 December 2016

We don't mention SFC three in a row

St Vincent’s senior football manager, former Dublin star forward of the 1980s Tommy Conroy
St Vincent’s senior football manager, former Dublin star forward of the 1980s Tommy Conroy

Tommy Conroy gets behind the wheel and heads for home. The lights have gone off in Parnell Park.

Tommy slowly makes his way towards the exit in the gathering dusk. On his way, he waves goodnight to PJ Brennan, Ger's Dad.

The St Vincent's manager will now be driving back into the Donnycarney stadium for the Dublin SFC final on Sunday (4.0). And the big question is will the Clery Cup be staying in Páirc Naomh Uinsionn for a third winter in succession.

Earlier in the Parnell corridor, Tommy responded to such a question.

"Three in-a-row? We haven't even discussed it. We have never even spoken about it. This is another match for us to concentrate on. Another game we have to try and win."

And that's not going to be easy, according to the Dublin All-Ireland winner who played in the Panther's boots.

"Ballyboden are a good side. And we'll have to be at our best to win it.

"Their backs are very strong. Darragh Nelson is a very good defender. They have an excellent midfield in Michael Darragh Macauley and Declan O'Mahony.

"And they have terrific inside forwards in the likes of Andrew Kerin. There's a lot of quality in that attack, and all throughout the team.

"Boden will be hungry. They have been beaten by us before. They'll want to put that right.

"They look very organised. Andy McEntee has done a great job here. There is something different about them this year. They have beaten Kilmacud and Plunkett's. And they look like a side on a mission.

"They were down to 14 men against Clontarf in the semi-final, so great credit is due to them for hanging in. They same way that they did against Plunkett's.

"Boden are a very formidable outfit, and this may sound a little crazy, but I'd make them the slight favourites."

Tommy's team talk will centre of remaining focused for the full hour. But it's a point he won't have to make too forcefully.

Honesty

There's an honesty in their work. And like all the great champions, they are always willing to scramble. To dig deep.

The Plough and the Stars.

Tommy was very much a star himself. He won Sam with the Dubs in 1983, and he was also a highly accomplished hurler.

When St Vincent's secured the 1982 Dublin Senior Hurling Championship, Tommy played in midfield alongside Tom Quinn, Mossy's father.

The Saints have been on a long road now. A journey that has seen them earn Dublin, Leinster and All-Ireland titles.

And yet they are still more than happy to endure the hot Bovril and the winter chill of the Malahide Road.

"It all comes down to the players. It about their desire. And they are still showing that hunger. They want to go and do more."

Last week, Pillar Caffrey put Diarmuid Connolly up among the Dublin Footballing Gods. His manager has long been a fan.

"There is nobody like him. He's a wonderful talent. He's had a great couple of years. And he's in great form at the moment," remarks Tommy.

And on Dublin's Blue Riband Day, The Special One will add a few more bob to the gate.

Tommy is predicting a mighty battle. Last year, Vincent's had seven points to spare over Boden in the semi-final. But it had been quite a contest.

Vins also toppled N Fianna by seven points in last week's semi-final. But, again, Tommy was telling people not to judge the book by the cover.

"It was far from straight forward and comfortable. Na Fianna are a very good side. They caused us a lot of problems when they moved the ball quickly.

"They had young Aaron Byrne and Conor McHugh inside. They had Tomas Brady on the half-forward line. Na Fianna have a lot of fine footballers. They were always a threat.

"They were very unlucky at times. They had two or three goal chances in the last quarter. I don't think we were ever comfortable until the last six or seven minutes. It's never over till its over."

And the Dublin Championship being what it is, Tommy never counts his chips until he sees the Fat Lady entering the arena at Parnell Park.

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