Champions St Vincent’s forced to dig deep against St Plunkett’s

Diarmuid Connolly plays influential role for victors in freeing up space for forwards

St Vincent's 0-14 St Oliver Plunkett's Eoghan Ruadh: 1-10 There was a moment, late last night, when Diarmuid Connolly was seemingly motoring down a cul de sac with five St Oliver Plunkett's Eoghan Ruadh trackers in hot pursuit, much like the Belgium defenders surrounding Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup semi-final.

With nowhere to go Connolly gently flipped a hand pass against the grain and into Shane Carthy’s path. The ball was spun on to Ruairí Treanor but the anvil never fell as Cavan goalkeeper Alan O’Mara proved equal to the shot. Still, at 0-14 to 0-9 it felt like St Vincent’s had done enough to clinch their 27th Dublin football title. It felt like Connolly, at about 70 per cent of his majestic best, had done enough to guide them home.



Alan Brogan


refused to allow St Plunkett’s go quietly. His late goal forced St Vincent’s into keep ball but they coughed it up to allow

Bernard Brogan

bring it back to the minimum.

The All-Ireland champions needed to dig deep into their reserves to escape into the Leinster championship where they face Portlaoise in a fortnight.

St Plunkett's, adhering to their complex system, made a rash of positional and personnel changes before throw-in. All that needs noting is the addition of two more Brogans, Paul and Daragh, to cement the defensive structures while Declan Lally went onto Connolly's shoulder. Lally, a proven intercounty footballer, had he unenviable task of containing the man who can't seem to win footballer of the year no matter how flawless his string of performances are (At least the All Stars recognised him after last year's gaffe).

Connolly lasered only one point last night but glided away from Lally almost at will to act either as decoy or creator for other St Vincent’s forwards.

They knew that shots from distance would need to be accurate against the clumped St Plunkett's defence – where James Brogan excelled.

After an early Bernard Brogan scoring spree and one by Gareth “Nesty” Smith – the Matthew Le Tissier of the Dublin football scene – Eamon Fennell’s punt from 35 metres opened the champions account. Then Connolly landed a left footed effort before a Ciarán Dorney score levelled matters on 15 minutes.

Smith nudged St Plunkett’s back into the lead but a flowing St Vincent’s riposte saw Gavin Burke point when a goal seemed possible.

On we galloped with Alan Brogan exposing a lapse in concentration by Kevin Bonnie to open his account. The eldest Brogan looked as sharp as ever. The same must be said of defenders on either side like Hugh Gill and Rory O'Connor.

The same cannot be said of the ageing Tomás “Mossie” Quinn. He did at least atone for a poor miss to give St Vincent’s a lead that Burke stretched to 0-7 to 0-5 at half-time.

That left St Plunkett’s rueing five wides and a few shots that fell short. Eventually St Vincent’s strode away with a brace from Shane Carthy, after Connolly’s class began to shine through, made it 0-9 to 0-6.

Tactical changes

This lead forced St Plunkett’s into change. Not unlike Donegal in this year’s All-Ireland final, the need to dilute their defensive philosophy proved a difficult ask. After Dorney grabbed his third score, Bernard Brogan responded by flashing over a point. But St Vincent’s seemed through the turbulence as

Cameron Diamond

and Burke, another to hit 0-3, made it 0-12 to 0-7.

Ger Brennan flicked the autopilot switch, calming everything down and letting the ball do most of the work. The Marino giants are a remarkably composed outfit with leaders aplenty and one great footballer that makes anything seem possible.

St Plunkett’s had to resort to raining balls down on Bernard Brogan. Michael Savage, in the St Vincent’s goal, was equal to this ploy.

Connolly had a hand in several scores but his cross for Ruairí Treanor’s second point drew gasps of admiration from the 9,000-odd sardines wedged into Parnell Park.

That felt like that but the Brogans came again; Alan's scrappy goal and Bernard's free forcing the champions into survival mode. ST VINCENT'S: M Savage; K Bonnie, J Curley, H Gill; B Egan, G Brennan, M Concarr; E Fennell (0-1), D Murphy; G Burke (0-3), D Connolly (0-1), S Carthy (0-2); R Treanor (0-2), C Dorney (0-3), T Quinn (0-1, free). Subs: Cameron Diamond (0-1) for D Murphy (38 mins), T Diamond for C Dorney (49 mins), M Loftus for E Fennell (57 mins), Cormac Diamond for S Carthy (57 mins). ST OLIVER PLUNKETT'S EOGHAN RUADH: A O'Mara; D Kelly, R O'Connor, E Clarke; S Lyons, D Lally, C Walsh; C Dunleavy, P Brogan; J Brogan, A Brogan (1-1), D Brogan; N Walsh, B Brogan (0-5, three frees), G Smith (0-3, 45). Subs: R McConnell for P Brogan (26 mins), P Brogan D Brogan (43 mins), P Lee (0-1) for S Lyons (46 mins) D Matthews for N Walsh (55 mins). Referee: David Feeney (Parnells)

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent