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Vinnies still a cut above the rest

WITH due respect to Garrycastle, Moorefield and Rhode, you couldn't help feeling in O'Moore Park a couple of weeks back that St Vincent's had already taken care of (in the mafia sense) the next best team in this Leinster club SFC.

Although speaking this week to the Herald, Portlaoise's manager Tommy Conroy did add some hindsight perspective.

"We're probably not really at the level any more," he admitted.

"We've lost a few players and, to be honest, the Laois Championship is no great preparation for the likes of St Vincent's."

improvement

So in an attempt to gauge the scale of improvement Vin's have undergone since last year, it's probably not wise to use their two wins over the Laois champions (three points at a neutral venue last year, 10 in Portlaoise two Sundays back) as the sole scale.

But there's a fair argument to be made that they wont be required to climb those same performance heights again this weekend in order to sustain this run to a second successive Leinster title.

Then again, as Conroy also stressed: "Any team can be caught. No matter how good you are, you can get caught on a given day."

But so long as Vincent's attitude is as sharp as it has been and no epidemic of some debilitating illness or other has broken out in Marino, we think they'll be okay.

Because it's worth remembering that last year, they beat St Loman's and Summerhill to get to the Leinster final without Diarmuid Connolly, and mostly shorn of Ger Brennan too.

Not only are those two back - and, judging by the Portlaoise game, more influential than ever - the support structures around them are strenghtened.

Gavin Burke and Jarlath Curley, for two, must be in Jim Gavin's thinking for 2015 and that's presuming that Hugh Gill and Mick Concarr already are.

On the basis of the Portlaoise game, Shane Carthy might feel aggrieved were he not given a chance with Dublin too.

And remember, Garrycastle - who at one stage faced group elimination in Westmeath - were lucky to get out of Mullingar alive in their last outing against Longford champions Killoe Emmet Óg.

discomforted

A point up and suitably discomforted, Garrycastle watched as Mickey Quinn's free missed its target and then their experienced 'keeper Cathal Mullin failed to clear in any commanding fashion.

The ball broke to Killoe's Darragh Bennett, who planted the ball into the next with all of three minutes stoppage time played.

Yet the atmosphere in Cusack Park went from tension to misery to elation in less time than you get say 'square ball' after Fergal Smyth disallowed the score for that very infraction.

Again, we're not advocating the use of Vincent's last performance as the sole indicator of how good they are but taken alongside that of Garrycastle's, there shouldn't be much of a contest here.

ODDS: St Vincent's 1/8, Draw 12/1, Garycastle 11/2

VERDICT: St Vincent's

LEINSTER CLUB SFC SEMI-FINALS

ST VINCENT'S v GARRYCASTLE

(Parnell Park, Tomorrow, 4.0)


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