Vincent's hold off late, late Jude's battle
St Vincent's 1-13 St Jude's 0-13
St Vincent's repelled a late onslaught from St Jude's to deservedly register a three-point victory in their Dublin SHC 'A' Group 1 encounter at a sun-kissed Parnell Park last Saturday evening.
In truth, the margin of victory was more comfortable than the final scoreline suggested as Vincent's dominated for the large part with Jude's only really playing at the required intensity and fluency in the closing quarter.
By that stage, they were attempting to reel in an eight-point deficit but while they held their opponents scoreless for the final 19 minutes, they never looked likely to complete a dramatic turnaround as they struggled to threaten against a resolute and disciplined St Vincent's defence.
Despite being without the absent Cian McBride, Diarmuid and Tomás Connolly, the Marino outfit impressed for the large part with Neal Billings catching the eye at wing-back in an efficient and diligent man-marking assignment on St Jude's talisman Danny Sutcliffe.
Jack Collins was another to impress with a strong outing at full-back while Ruairí Trainor was a clever selection at centre-back, directing affairs while intelligently protecting his full-back line.
It was Vincent's, playing with the benefit of a strong breeze, that opened the scoring through a third minute free from Keith Connolly and that advantage was doubled two minutes later as Brian Bolger tapped over from an Alan Moore pass.
Dublin senior Moore was at his busy best at corner-forward, particularly in the first-half, and he caused Ciarán Mangan numerous headaches as Vinnies opened up on the front foot.
Their opponents enjoyed parity around centrefield in the early stages but struck some poor wides that appeared to deflate their collective confidence and they fell further behind in the tenth minute as Oisín Lanigan sidestepped Donie Fox all too easily before firing over from 60 metres.
That score highlighted the relative ease with which the St Vincent's players could find space and Lanigan's partnership with Rian McBride was hugely influential initially in setting the tone of the game.
To emphasise that point, McBride added a score of his own a minute later before Fox finally got the St Jude's tally up and running when converted a 12th minute free.
Conor Burke restored St Vincent's four-point lead prior to a period of sloppy play in which neither side covered themselves in glory.
However, the quality improved thanks to a sublime point from a tight angle by Keith Connolly and that was enhanced even further as the influential McBride nonchalantly fired over a sideline ball from a full 50 metres.
When Moore added a deserved score in the 19th minute, the margin rose to seven points and the game appeared to be running away from St Jude's but they managed to regroup with Joseph McManus scoring their first point from play in the 22nd minute while Fionn Ó Riain Broin added a fine score on the run three minutes later to reduce their deficit to five points.
However, any potential momentum that those scores may have generated was soon eradicated in the 27th minute as Moore produced an act of escapology to wriggle his way from a plethora of St Jude's defenders with his well-timed pass allowing Burke to clinically fire home past Damian Walsh from ten metres.
Neal Mangan, who worked tirelessly throughout in the overrun St Jude's midfield, replied with an excellent point with McManus and Burke trading placed balls as Vins entered the break with a seven-point (1-9 to 0-5) interval advantage.
Another glorious McBride sideline ball within four minutes of the resumption helped extend their lead and when Burke added a free a minute later, to augment a fine Keith Connolly point, the match looked effectively over as a contest.
However, there was a gradual and incremental improvement in St Jude's display from that point with both Ger McManus and Eoin McLoughlin leading the way from full-back and centre-back respectively.
McLoughlin scored an inspirational point following earlier points by McManus and Ó Riain Broin and while Moore scored a classy effort in reply, the momentum was all with St Jude's at this stage.
McManus scored two frees in quick succession and when Sutcliffe pointed from a free from inside his own half, the margin was reduced to five points with over ten minutes to play.
The goal required by the Templeogue outfit proved elusive and although McLoughlin and McManus added late points, St Vincent's held on under sporadic pressure to complete their second successive win.
Scorers - St Vincent's: C Burke 1-3 (0-1f, 0-1 '65'), K Connolly (0-1f), R McBride (0-2 sidelines) 0-3 each, A Moore 0-2, O Lanigan, B Bolger 0-1 each. St Jude's: J McManus 0-6 (0-4f), F Ó Riain Broin, E McLoughlin 0-2 each, D Sutcliffe (f), D Fox (f), N Mangan 0-1 each.
St Vincent's: D de Poire; R Pocock, J Collins, C Harney; N Billings, R Trainor, F Power; R McBride, O Lanigan; R Fallon, C Burke, C Billings; A Moore, K Connolly, B Bolger. Subs: G Giblin for C Billings (40), J Hetherton for Fallon (44), J Walshe for Bolger (51), T McGrane for Connolly (62).
St Jude's: D Walsh; P Lavin, G McManus, C Mangan; T Divilly, E McLoughlin, A O'Beirne; D Fox, N Mangan; F Ó Riain Broin, T Devlin, D Sutcliffe; M Maguire, R Joyce, J McManus. Subs: D McLoughlin for Maguire (ht), M Malone for O'Beirne (ht), P Maguire for Fox (38), M Hannon for Joyce (45), J Kennedy for Sutcliffe (58).
Ref: D Harrington (St Sylvester's).