| 2.8°C Dublin

all pros rest with vincent's

DAVE Cullen knows all about the quality of the All-Ireland champions.

Dave manages Templeogue Synge Street, the Super Hoops who reached the quarter-final of this season's Dublin Senior Football Championship.

Then they met the magical Marino men in Parnell Park.

That's where the seven-time Westmeath champs, Garrycastle, are destined for this Sunday in the semi-final of the AIB Leinster SFC.

Garrycastle beat Mullingar Shamrocks in the county final before accounting for Longford's Emmet óg by a point.

Their manager, Dessie Dolan senior, has assembled a fine side that has that dash of youth.

They also contain experience and the cultured craft of Dessie Dolan. Just like Diarmuid Connolly, it's well worth spending the bus fare to see this maestro grace the turf.

Beating Vins would be front page news on the Westmeath Examiner.

"It's going to be a difficult afternoon for Garrycastle. Vincent's are a very hard side to compete against," judges Dave.


"They are just such an extremely strong team. In the quarter-final, we competed with them for about 30 minutes, but they just have the ability to turn it on."

In that last eight meeting, there wasn't a sausage between the clubs at half-time.

Then on the opening page of the second period, Vincent's hit four points in as many minutes.

Then Mossy Quinn produced a quick hat-trick of goals, and that was it.

Such a conclusion never looked likely in the opening half as Synger settled well and played some purposeful football.

Yet it's that ability to lift the tempo that places the Pairc Naomh Uinsionn team in a different class.

"Portlaoise are a quality outfit, but Vincent's were still able to beat them comfortably in the end," remarks Dave.

"Teams try to counter-act Quinn and Connolly, but they have the scoring power across the six forwards.

"Gavin Burke, Shane Carthy, Ruairi Trainor and Ciaran Dorney have been taking their scores.

"Defences put so much focus on Connolly and Quinn, but then you have Carthy coming up with 2-2.

"They got 3-17 from play against us. And then they have the advantage of bringing top players off the bench. They have such a talented squad.


"They have the ability to start well in each half and push on from there. That's what they did at O'Moore Park."

For Zach Touhy, it was like watching something at the Carlton cinema.

Zach was playing for Portlaoise last week before he returned to Australia and the AFL.

"Vincent's are the closest thing to a professional outfit in the GAA at the minute," he mused.

"They are an incredibly well organised side. They are going to take some beating this season."

Ger Brennan was once again in majestic mood in the number six jersey.

And the Templeogue chief also hails the excellent defending of the holders, who have the accomplished Michael Savage minding the castle.

The visitors have a worthy 'keeper in Cathal Mullin, and their midfielder, Aidan Browne, brings invention to the boots. And puts glue on the gloves.

Against éire óg in Cuack Park, Garrycastle had to show resolve, and they'll bring that in bundles to Donnycarney.

Yet making the short journey across the Malahide Road puts the Dublin champs in an even more formidable position this weekend.

Dave is impressed with the attitude in the camp.

"They have a terrific work ethic about them. And the panel is so solid that nobody can afford to rest on their laurels. They have been going now full pelt for two years without a break. Trying to keep things fresh and maintaining the hunger is the big issue for them now. On the other side of the draw you have Moorefield and Rhode, two respected teams."

Kildare's Moorefield beat Rathnew in Aughrim, while Rhode overcame Navan O'Mahony's in Tullamore.

In the Meath SFC final, O'Mahony's defeated Donaghmore-Ashbourne, managed by Dublin All-Star, Paul Clarke.

Playing in such a competitive county championship as Dublin is certainly a plus for the Leinster road.

Dave states that the top teams in Dublin could more than hold their own against some counties.

"You could definitely argue that some of the leading teams in Dublin could compete against a number of the county sides."

Reaching the last eight and retaining their ticket for next season's AFL Division 1 represents a worthy campaign for the men from Dolphin Park.

"Beating Na Fianna in the last 16 was a big result for us. Na Fianna are a good team."

Templeogue had a point to spare. Their goals came from their Dublin duo, Denis Bastick and Eoghan O'Gara.

In the opening round of the championship, Templeogue toppled St Mary's on the Kiltipper Road all-weather surface.

The brilliant Bastick also made a telling contribution on that evening, kicking three neat points.

When Dublin won the All-Ireland Junior Football Championship title back in 2008, Bastick and O'Gara were very influential figures.

And they carried that value into the Dublin senior scene.

It was Dublin's first All-Ireland junior crown since 1960. Mick Deegan was the manager. He had good company in the dugout - Mick Galvin and Jack Sheedy. Bastick was the skipper. He named the management crew 'The Three Amigos.'

Many of the junior lads progressed to the senior Dublin panel.

Conor McKiernan also excelled against Mary's, with Conor O'Reilly rising into the Tallaght clouds to fetch the ball.

Niall Scully is a marvellous footballer, and there's always scores on the laces of men like Ger Vickery, Tommy Coyle, Marc Hiney and Alan O'Brien.

"We are a decent team when we have all our squad together. But only the bigger clubs have that strength in depth. We were hoping to avoid the top teams in the quarter-final, but we ended up getting Vincent's!"

But now with their work done, they'll be joining the rest of the Dublin Brigade in cheering on Vins in Leinster.

Dave says it's all about getting the focus right for Sunday.

Music to the ears of a fellow member of the manager's union, Tommy Conroy.