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Dermo still has 'it' but Clontarf miss out on Jack

Dublin SFC Group 3: St Vincent's 2-16 Clontarf 0-10

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Clontarf’s Shane Walsh is tackled by Shane Carthy of St Vincent’s during the Dublin SFC Group 3 Round 3 match at Parnell Park on Saturday

Clontarf’s Shane Walsh is tackled by Shane Carthy of St Vincent’s during the Dublin SFC Group 3 Round 3 match at Parnell Park on Saturday

SPORTSFILE

Clontarf’s Shane Walsh is tackled by Shane Carthy of St Vincent’s during the Dublin SFC Group 3 Round 3 match at Parnell Park on Saturday

Dessie Farrell was up and gone by the time the second half recommenced after the water break.

Presumably he'd seen enough. Or at least all that was relevant to him.

By then, St Vincent's were in an unimpeachable lead and safely into this year's Dublin SFC quarter-final.

Diarmuid Connolly was standing on the sideline in Parnell Park, chatting casually with Jack McCaffrey.

Connolly sported a peachy bruise on his upper thigh/hamstring and his 42nd minute removal was clearly caused by his discomfort.

McCaffrey was there in Maor Uisce mode only, apparently a hamstring victim himself.

Unless the 2015 Footballer of the Year performs an unexpected about-face on his decision to opt out of the Dublin setup for whatever can be scavenged from the wreckage of this sporting year, his football season ended in Donnycarney on Saturday night.

These were the evening's sub-plots. But the central theme was St Vincent's re-emergence as a championship force.

It's only three years since they last won one but such was their inertia last year, their demise seemed inexorable.

Whether they can beat the younger, more athletic contenders who have bulldozed their way into the same stage is another question entirely. But on the evidence of Saturday night, you couldn't say for certain that they won't.

Connolly, as is his wont, placed himself in the thick of it.

Artistic

He lined out at centre-forward in direct opposition to Mayo's Chris Barrett and only for some less than sharp finishing and a couple of smart saves from Ross O'Hanlon, he might have had two goals in the first half alone.

He scored one typically stylish point off his left but easily the outstanding artistic moment of the match was his pass to Shane Carthy that led to St Vincent's opening goal.

Tomás Quinn, betraying the image of the ageing, minimalist corner-forward, started it all by dispossessing Barrett in the middle of the pitch prompting Vincent's to storm forward en masse.

Connolly took possession with three team mates surging away from him at different speeds and angles.

He took less than a nanosecond to calculate the odds and then lobbed a precision pass over the shoulder of Shane Carthy, the most advanced of the Vincent's runners.

It generated a two-on-one and Carthy squared for Greg Murphy, who applied the finish.

It was typical Connolly.

The option he selected had the highest degree of difficulty but also, potentially the greatest reward.

The goal put Vincent's into a 1-11 to 0-6 lead with half-time approaching and from there, the rest was merely accounting.

Connolly has had more involved games for Vincent's but other than his assist, point and near misses, he executed the basics well.

Clearly, he still has 'it'. But quite how 'it' fits into Dessie Farrell's plans or whether 'it' will be good enough to drive Vincent's to another championship, only the coming weeks and months will reveal.

Deeply

And on Saturday evening, Vincent's had more than enough for Clontarf without having to rely too deeply on Connolly.

Murphy, who scored 1-2, gave their inside forward line with a much-needed voltage of energy. In the first half especially, he buzzed along the line and made an option/nuisance of himself.

Quinn, in his 20th championship campaign, scored 0-8 and was seven from ten from placed balls.

Carthy gave them a constant direct running option while the additions of both Gavin Burke and Mick Concarr as substitutes suggested Vincent's will be both tronger and more recognisable when they play again in the quarter-finals.

For the last ten minutes, we even had Ger Brennan on the pitch, back from retirement to add another reassuring layer to a Vincent's team that finally, after a couple of seasons of inertia, seemed to have traction again.

SCORERS - St Vincent's: T Quinn 0-8 (7f), G Murphy 1-2, S Lowry 1-0, S Carthy 0-2, M L'Estrange, E Fennell, D Connolly, G Burke 0-1 each. Clontarf: N Doran 0-5 (5f), K McKeon, A Foley 0-2 each, K Lillis, C McConnell 0-1 each.

ST VINCENT'S: M Savage; C O'Brien, J Curley, C Wilson; S Lambe, C Diamond, M L'Estrange; E Fennell, N Mullins; A Martin, D Connolly, S Carthy; G Murphy, S Lowry, T Quinn. Subs: A Giblin for Fennell (25), G Burke for Martin (h-t), M Concarr for O'Brien (h-t), C O'Brien for Connolly (42), G Brennan for Lambe (50)

CLONTARF: R O'Hanlon; L Howley, C Doran, D Monaghan; S Walsh, C Barrett, F O'Byrne; A Foley, M Walsh; S O'Quigley, N Doran, F Dodd; K McKeon, M MacDonncha, K Lillis. Subs: B Berney for O'Byrne (35), C Cronin for Walsh (35), J McDonagh for Dodd (43), C McConnell for MacDonncha (55), C Kyne for S Walsh (57)

REF: L Lacey (Na Fianna)