Vins only do it the hard way
Dublin champs see off St Loman's despite early Brennan red after third tie in a week
ST VINCENT'S don't do routine. They don't make it easy on themselves either. And yet they keep on perfecting their triumph-in-adversity trick.
Four days after a late scoring burst torpedoed Ballymun Kickhams, the newly-crowned Dublin champions came to Mullingar for their opening Leinster club SFC foray without their suspended marquee forward, Diarmuid Connolly, and duly found themselves another man down inside seven minutes.
Not any man either: their second Dublin regular, Ger Brennan, was censured following an off-the-ball incident with Kelvin Reilly that left his St Loman's opponent on the turf.
Brennan protested his innocence to no avail, and his straight red card could have been the perfect excuse if teammates felt anyway inclined to use fatigue or the supposed unfairness of it all to down tools, happy with their county title bounty.
But that isn't part of the Marino DNA. It certainly isn't a trait you will find in Tommy Conroy's dressing room.
Thus, more than an hour after Brennan's premature exit, his manager was waxing lyrical about the mentality that has seen Vincent's defy the odds, three times in a week.
Seven days earlier, they had retrieved a five-point deficit against Ballymun in the death throes of normal time. In Wednesday night's replay, they were five down again only to claim late victory, despite Connolly's dismissal.
"I played on some good teams, went watching some great teams in Vincent's ... but I think that team, what they did against Ballymun and what they did today, is fantastic," Conroy declared after yesterday's 0-11 to 0-9 tightrope act.
"What can I say about them? They like to do it the hard way! We've a good bench, we've got strength in depth. As I said it's not about one individual, it's about a group of players who decided they wanted to go further in this, that they didn't want this journey to end today, and it didn't."
They have the rare luxury of a two-week break ("that seems like a month to us!" their manager quipped) before hosting Summerhill of Meath with a Leinster final place on offer.
Now for the bad news: Connolly's time-based suspension will still be active and he'll be joined by his captain – unless the DVD comes to his rescue. "We'll certainly have a look at it," Conroy confirmed. "Ger is adamant that he didn't strike."
At the time, the sides were tied at 0-1 apiece. Even before then, the visiting defence had been out-of-sorts and were indebted to keeper Michael Savage for a spectacular double save from Reilly.
But 14 men settled and, often during the first half, you'd have sworn they had the extra player against a Loman's side betrayed by their own caution or lack of Leinster experience, or both.
Ciarán Dorney nailed two fine points on the run. Eamon Fennell claimed six first half kickouts, and by half-time they led 0-6 to 0-4.
Either side of half-time, the Westmeath champions were further undermined when John Heslin uncharacteristically undercooked three placed balls. But then their talisman found his range with two thumping frees before Shane Dempsey edged them ahead.
Vin's levelled only for Reilly to brilliantly restore Loman's lead on 50 minutes. "But we didn't just kick for home," lamented Loman's manager Declan Rowley ... whereas Tomás Quinn did exactly that.
Having absorbed punishment all day and never stopped showing, 'Mossy' proved his enduring worth with a decisive hat-trick of points, via a '45', a 35m free and a nerveless effort from play.
Heslin replied, impressively, only for Ruairí Trainor to land an injury-time insurance point after an inspirational run from full-back Jarlath Curley.
Next up Summerhill: the Dublin champions will be rested but again depleted.
"Your team doesn't get better without Diarmuid Connolly or Ger Brennan but you've just got to adapt," Quinn reflected, before the retired Dub quipped: "There was a joke in the dressing room that we're going back to our best 15, because we play without them all year anyway with Dublin!"