Back to back joy for classy Vin's
Marino men survive late Plunkett's fightback
ONLY the great teams do it back-to-back.
And even against the backdrop of their own very distinguished history, this St Vincent's team can now claim that billing.
They beat St Oliver Plunkett/s/ER last night by a point (0-14 to 1-10) in Parnell Park to win a second county title on the spin, a truly fine feat given the recent quality and steely competitiveness of the competition.
Yet they were better than that thus, remarkably, they haven't lost a Championship match since September 2012.
It wasn't easy. But deserved it.
Alan Brogan's late fisted goal forced an atmosphere of panic in the closing stages where calm had previously reigned.
But in truth, Vincent's had so many scoring option on the night - and so many of their attackers standing up to doing the business - they were justified champions.
And Plunkett's defence, the source of their own strength, just couldn't keep enough of them in check.
Gavin Burke, Shane Carthy, Ciarán Dorney and Ruairí Trainor, the less acclaimed member of the Vincent's attack, kicked ten points from play between them.
Vincent's, that most aristocratic of Dublin GAA clubs, were going for their first back-to-back titles since 1977.
Plunkett's were going for their first, but arrived to Parnell Park brandishing the scalps of Ballymun, Kilmacud Crokes and St Jude's.
They came with with two recent Footballers of the Year, too, in Bernard and Alan Brogan.
Yet in truth, most neutrals in Parnell Park last night (and there were enough to delay throw-in by ten minutes) had come to watch the latest part of Diarmuid Connolly's epic 2014.
Connolly had scored 3-11 going into last night's final and in all reality, as the form player in the country.
Mossy Quinn, meanwhile, had four goals to his name.
Yet, in their three matches since the Championship resumed in September, Plunkett's had conceded less than eight points per match. They had yet to ship a goal.
2013 All-Ireland finalists, Ballymun Kickhams, scored 3-17 in their second round match against Fingal Ravens. They got 0-10 against Plunkett's.
Kevin McManamon managed all of 3-5 himself against St Brigid's but drew a frustrated blank in the semi-final.
So clearly, something had to give.
Vincent's didn't win an All-Ireland club title this year purely off the spadework of just two men, though, even if at times of late, their success has been so Connolly-driven.
Naturally, he was furiously marshalled by throughout by Declan Lally and usually, at least two other deep-lying defenders but it was a couple of Vincent's lesser-spotted forwards who did most of their damage in the first half.
Gavin Burke stuck good points off either foot while Ciarán Dorney also bagged a pair in the relative comfort of the space evacuated by Connolly and Quinn's persuers.
And generally, Vincent's looked pretty comfortable against such a ravenous and proven defence, particularly when moving the ball quickly through their hands.
It was Plunkett's, however, who set the pace.
Alan Brogan, in particular, thrived early on, kicking a point, setting one up with a beauty of a pass to Bernard and winning a free as Plunkett's went three clear by the sixth minute but Vincent's were always on their shoulder.
Eamonn Fennell and Dorney belatedly got them involved in the scoring but it was their end to the half which looked ominous for Plunkett's.
Dorney's second levelled it in the 24th minute and then Quinn (free) and Burke squeezed through gaps that didn't look to exist to put the Marino men two in front at the break.
Even in his quiet spells though, Connolly was influential. He took four players out of the game before setting up Shane Carthy in the second half and only for Alan O'Mara's close ranger save. he'd have put Trainor in for a goal too.
Slowly but certainly, they crept ahead but when Alan Brogan fisted a Ross McConnell delivery, there was suddenly hope for Plunkett's.
Like all champions though, Vincent's wouldn't be denied.