A fine vintage
Six Saints make Dubs Stars team
PEOPLE were still talking about the county final last week. They stopped in the fading light of a November day to remember.
And what a winter's tale it was. A Crackling Rosie of a match ... with an enchanting encore.
As Tommy Conroy said, the two teams were magnificent. And so they were.
Two huge crowds. The Parnell Park bulbs twinkling. The Donnycarney Super Bowl throwing the best party of the year.
St Vincent's showed the resolve of champions. They were on the floor, and on the ropes. But they bounced back each time.
On both days, they had to endure the early Ballymun Blitz. It looked like the holders would win easily.
But, like the All Blacks, Vins held on tight. They were patient. They never lost focus.
They have undoubted class and talent. But it's their work rate that puts polish on the boots. And the famous blue-and-white jersey raises them up to stand on mountains.
The Dublin championship means so much to Vincent's. There was a time when they practically owned the trophy.
Days when the Saints line-up contained so many celebrated names that are still revered today.
The prize is harder won in the modern era. And it is all the sweeter for that. As Brian O'Driscoll says, it's the hardest-fought victories that you remember the most.
The Clery Cup didn't have to pay much of a taxi fare as it sailed proudly across the Malahide Road. It's home from home at the stately Páirc Naomh Uinsionn.
And Vinnie's also top the poll in the Dublin Bus/The Herald Dubs Stars football selection. The selectors toiled late into the night. All that was missing from the great debate was an input from David Norris.
The mighty Marino men have representatives all over the shop. Diarmuid Connolly's class on the ball resembled the excitement of the re-opening of Clery's.
His classical flick in the semi-final against Boden would have been a YouTube sensation if somebody was quick enough with the camera phone.
But you have to be sharp to keep up with DC. And the bould Mossy also takes some watching.
He is forever a step ahead of the parade. And he never seems to get caught in the traffic around Hart's Corner.
Michael Savage is one of the most capable 'keepers around. He brings vast experience to the gloves.
He has Hugh Gill among his sentries. Gill had a storming campaign. A true Vinnie's brave-heart.
Michael Concarr also delivered defensive master-classes throughout the campaign. A footballer who can also quickly spot an open window.
Among the best individual displays of the season came from young Gavin Burke the first day against the Mun when he kicked six gorgeous points.
He was showing for possession and sinking putts from all over the green. It was an exceptional performance.
Ballymun, of course, contributed so much to the spectacle. Their All-Ireland exploits attracted such acclaim ... and sympathy.
They had one hand on the Andy Merrigan Cup. They would dearly have loved a second chance.
Yet, as Paul Curran always says, getting out of The Pale is the hardest job of them all. They almost did it.
And even when they didn't manage to cross the line, they didn't lose any friends. They gained even more.
Dean Rock has become such a classical footballer. Strength, stealth, accuracy, vision ... he's The Full Monty.
Davy Byrne and James McCarthy were the chief boiler-men all year. They complement each other. Davy keeping an eye on the till, while James heads off to the wholesalers in his Porsche.
Alan Hubbard once again lit up the tournament. "I could watch him all day," stated one pundit.
Seán George also showed his class. And he is joined on the full-back line by Robbie McDaid, the highly-regarded Boden Brave.
The leadership of Chris Guckian sees him secure the pivotal number six shirt, while his St Jude's colleague, the road-runner, Kevin McManamon, also gets the vote.
Eugene Keating's finishing was the toast of the coast, while the bench contains a magnificent seven that would get on any team in the country.