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Vincent's evolution is moving to next level

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Ger Brennan, St Vincent's, in action against Gareth Dillon and Adrian Kelly, right, Portlaoise. AIB Leinster GAA Football Senior Club Championship, Quarter-Final, Portlaoise v St Vincent's, O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Ger Brennan, St Vincent's, in action against Gareth Dillon and Adrian Kelly, right, Portlaoise. AIB Leinster GAA Football Senior Club Championship, Quarter-Final, Portlaoise v St Vincent's, O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Ger Brennan, St Vincent's, in action against Gareth Dillon and Adrian Kelly, right, Portlaoise. AIB Leinster GAA Football Senior Club Championship, Quarter-Final, Portlaoise v St Vincent's, O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

IF only because St Vincent's teamsheet has remained unchanged since their most recent All-Ireland win, it is both pertinent and easy to measure their evolution as a team.

In the 11 games it took them to sweep Dublin, Leinster and all of Ireland last/this year, the Marino club scored 17-153, an average of 18.54 per match.

In the half-dozen Championship outings of this football season, they've notched 13-87, raising their per-game mean to exactly 21 points.

But it's the slightly changing demographics of those hauls that tell a story and backs up manager Tommy Conroy's point about the unit being "a year on, a year older and probably a little bit more mature".

Celebrated

Last term, Tomás Quinn alone furnished Vincent's with 35.29pc of their tally for the year.

Diarmuid Connolly ponied up 15.6pc and, between them, the as yet lesser-celebrated attacking quartet of Gavin Burke, Shane Carthy, Ciarán Dorney and Ruairí Trainor managed 39.7pc. This year, Quinn's running contribution is 24.6pc, Connolly's 18.25pc while the 'others' have accounted for 41.26pc.

"I think that's the great thing maybe about our squad," reflected captain Ger Brennan after Portlaoise had been flattened in their own ground on Sunday. "I know last year there were games myself and Dermo were missing (through suspension) and the team just kept trucking on and getting victories.

"That's just the strength of our panel. It doesn't matter who is playing. Everyone has a job to do and you do the job as best you can and that's it."

Of course, none of the above figures proves anything comprehensive. Quinn, for example, not only scored Vincent's first goal in Portlaoise on Sunday, he was centrally - and somewhat painfully, in the case of the third - involved in both of Carthy's.

Thronged

And while Connolly was so thronged with would-be markers in the county final he never quite made the YouTube highlight reel his earlier performances had, he still managed to take out three or four St Oliver Plunkett's players with each successful and inventive pass.

On Sunday too, his distribution was sublime.

Plus, your world-view of Gaelic football would have to be narrow in the extreme to appraise Connolly's contribution to Vincent's recent resurgence in bald scoring stats.

But it at least proves that when Quinn insisted after the county final - a match in which Carthy, Burke, Trainor and Dorney scored 10 points from play between them - that "our philosophy is to get the ball to the man in the best position", he meant it.

Which is unusual for a club team, particularly one possessing, as Vincent's do, arguably the most complete footballer in the country just now.

And it's hard to think of another club team of recent vintage with six genuine scoring options in attack.

"We are tying to play for 60, 70 minutes the whole time and that's something we need to go away and work on," said Brennan, referring to the contrast between Vincent's first-10-minutes performance, in which they could very easily have scored four goals, and the rest of the first half, when they were outplayed and outscored by 0-6 to 0-2.

"Despite winning we are still switching off for large parts of the game, most notably today the latter part of the first half.

"We were standing off the Portlaoise players and, in fairness to them, they grew in confidence and put some nice balls into their forwards and their forwards are very accurate with their finishes too.

"I guess we were a bit annoyed with ourselves when we came in at half time.

"We new we had to get the finger out if we were going to win the game.

"I suppose maybe it's a testament to our mindset that we tend just to keep focusing on the next ball and I know naturally if you keep missing chances like that it can creep in on your mindset but I think we are quite strong in that regard that we will keep to our game plan, keep plugging away.

"The game is won over 65, 70 minutes and once we are ahead by the end of the game, we are content."

Improving

And it's not just in attack where Vincent's are improving. Jarlath Curley looks more and more an inter-county grade full-back with each passing match.

Eamonn Fennell and Daithí Murphy have an understanding an All-Ireland win will do for a midfield pairing, and both Cameron and Cormac Diamond offer something very real and a little bit different when they come on.

"Look, we won but there are parts of our game we wouldn't be content with," Brennan added.

"Particularly in the first half, all those goals chance we missed and stepping off the Portlaoise forwards and midfielders and giving them opportunities for goals themselves so we were lucky.

"If you think you are better than what you are, you are going to get a kick in the back side."


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