Tuesday 26 March 2019

Brennan: We set our own standards

Manager Mullins provides link to the club's glory era

Diarmuid Connolly of St Vincent’s is congratulated by Dublin team-mate Dean Rock of Ballymun Kickhams after the Dublin SFC Final at Parnell Park
Diarmuid Connolly of St Vincent’s is congratulated by Dublin team-mate Dean Rock of Ballymun Kickhams after the Dublin SFC Final at Parnell Park
St Vincent’s manager Brian Mullins celebrates with Nathan Mullins after the match

Given Monday was their 28th title, the act of St Vincent's winning a Dublin Senior Football Championship might be considered as inevitable as the succession of night following day.

It's probably pertinent, however, to separate the current high-achievers from their eminent clubmates of the 50s, 60s and 70s, just to give full justice to the current team.

As Ger Brennan pointed out, none of this bunch "grew up watching St. Vincent's winning titles," so it wasn't like they had anything to emulate.

"It's pretty nice now, I have to say," he beamed after Monday's grind of a victory over Ballymun Kickhams in Parnell Park, the win that confirmed - if such a stamp was needed - that Vincent's are great champions.

"And, I guess, it's not often you get to enjoy it because the season rolls on so quickly.

"It's a nice achievement."

When they lost to Slaughtneil in February, it appeared as though Vincent's had run slightly out of zip.

Brennan is 32 now and retired from inter-county football two years ago on account of persistent injury.

Tomás Quinn is 36.

Together with Diarmuid Connolly, they have carried Vincent's to all of their recent success and the team haven't had any crop of budding underage stars to freshen the mix either.

Yet it's not inconceivable that they will go on now to challenge for a third All-Ireland title in a decade.

"An awful lot of work has gone into our team over the years," Brennan pointed out.

"Brian Mullins and the management team took up the mantle from Tommy Conroy after him being involved for a number of years and he just kind of added value to it the whole time.

"It was sweet to win and sweet for the management as well. They put an awful lot of work into it too."

Brennan is one of a select few to straddle the club's famine-ending success of 2007 with this more recent time of plenty.

He has won five Dublin senior titles now but his maiden win was the club's first in 33 years.

That was enough of a gap to suggest the glory days of the club were historical, rather than symptomatic of a culture for future generations to tap into.

"We lost a few players and we lost our way a bit," Brennan recalled of the lull that came after their 2008 All-Ireland victory and before their run of four Dublin titles in five years in a period when football in the capital has never been stronger.

"But thankfully we've been able to create a standard and any player that's coming into the squad, new lads coming up from minor and that, we try to adhere to that standard of excellence.

"We try to improve ourselves the whole time because a few of us would have been involved in 2008 and there was barren years for a good while.

"We kind of learnt from that. You've got to make hay when the sun shines it won't last forever."

Sweeter again, surely, that it was Ballymun Kickhams they beat in the final.

The pair have sparked off each other in recent years and such were the performances of Paddy Carr's team in their last two games, they entered the final as fairly hefty favourites, despite the achievements of their opponents.

Yet Vincent's were doughy and organised at the back.

They were disciplined in their tackling and smarter in their movement up front.

"It wasn't a high scoring game, a bit scrappy at times," Brennan noted. "Probably Diarmuid's goal was a bit of a cushion that we needed, we won by three in the end.

"So I don't think they really got within those three points.

Motor on

"We were able to kind of motor on and score every time they scored and tried to creep back into it. The lads were great."

"We planned and prepped well.

"You look at Ballymun with Dean's influence, I'd imagine they tried to play somewhat similar to how Dublin play, pulling the defence out wide and try to run it or kick it through the channels.

"That was something we were conscious of, we tried to kind of keep it a bit tighter and not get dragged around the place.

"I think in the second part of the first half we gave away an awful lot of silly balls, they kind of broke quite strong, James McCarthy in particular picked up an awful lot of ball.

"We just talked about it a bit at half-time, about tightening it up and tagging James earlier before he gets a head of steam up."

Other than the trophy they lifted for the 28th time, the presence of Mullins on the sideline was most obvious connection between this great Vincent's team and their last.

After a wildly successful stint, Tommy Conroy stepped away after that defeat in February yet the quality of the team and their resilience has endured under one of the club's most famous members.

"We've a great bunch, they're very dedicated, very committed and they are eager to do the best they can in the jersey," Mullins noted afterwards.

"The dividend out of that effort and mentality is four out of five, so they're very happy with that.

"Though they don't like talking about the one that got away..."

"They're a very agreeable bunch and they're a very inspiring bunch to work with and I'm very lucky to have the chance to work with them.

"At the moment everything is good but we've a lot of hard work ahead of us," Mullins added.

"And it's only one part of the journey."

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