herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Roche's Point: Vincent's seek a rare Dub double

Diarmuid Connolly
Diarmuid Connolly

UCD don't qualify as typical representatives of Dublin club football, their players tending to hail from everywhere bar Dublin (with a few exceptions). With that qualification duly inserted, the capital's most celebrated standard-bearers - St Vincent's - are now on the cusp of history, never previously achieved by a group of 'Dublin' club footballers.

If Marino's finest can negotiate two more hours of win-or-bust action, they will be crowned AIB All-Ireland club SF champions for the second consecutive year - a tantalising two-in-a-row only achieved four times, by three different clubs.

A UCD team comprising students from Mayo, Galway, Kildare, Cavan, Kerry (and one or two Dubs!) were first to do so in 1974 and '75. A St Finbarr's team that included a couple of future Cork hurling managers emulated that feat in 1980 and '81. Crossmaglen Rangers have done the double on the double: first in 1999 and 2000, more recently in 2011 and '12.

This is the vaunted company that St Vincent's now crave. Some would argue that they've already surmounted the greatest obstacle, merely by retaining their crown in Dublin, a school of hard knocks that leaves the eventual winners well prepared for an assault on Leinster or beyond.

Since then, Leinster was retained with relative ease, the only blip coming either side of half-time against Garrycastle.

Moreover, if Diarmuid Connolly & Co come close to emulating last year's spellbinding All-Ireland final performance against Castlebar, who can stop them?

All of which makes it strange that Vincent's are the most marginal of favourites against Corofin this Saturday. Surely, such a rare gift from the bookies cannot be ignored?

Steady on. There is, as ever, method to their money-making madness. Prior to Christmas, Corofin were shooting the lights out: 4-14, 5-12, 7-20 and 2-13 in their last four outings. The Galway kingpins have tradition in this competition (beating another Dublin outfit, Erin's Isle, to land their one All-Ireland in 1998) while many of their team will be driven by semi-final memories of what might have been in '09 (against a Mark Vaughan-inspired Kilmacud) and a year later (against St Gall's).

All things considered then, Tullamore on Saturday could prove the ultimate test for Vin's. If they can get back into Croke Park, we cannot see them being beaten. But they must get there first …

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