WE’VE been made to wait a long time to bring the curtain down on this GAA season but when it finally dropped, it did so prematurely with St Vincent’s wrapping up their fourth Leinster football title within 15 minutes of the throw-in at Cusack Park yesterday.
The Dublin champions can’t be blamed for the tame ending. Mickey Whelan’s team belied the winter conditions to clock in with an impressive first quarter of football but were happy to down tools as soon as the danger had passed.
For Tyrrellspass, their disappointment will be acute. The first Westmeath team to reach this stage in 34 years had the opportunity to be the first of their peers to actually take the title. In the end they were made to look ordinary and the paucity of their performance makes you wonder about the health of Leinster, a province long depicted as being under the weather at inter-county level.
St Vincent’s hadn’t exactly set the world on fire either until their semi-final defeat of Portlaoise where they steamrolled the fancied midlanders with an unanswered 1-8 in the final quarter.
They commanded from the off here and, though the sides were level on two points apiece after 10 minutes, the signs were ominous for Tyrrellspass. The Westmeath side were expending a serious amount of energy just to manoeuvre the ball beyond their own ‘45, Vincents’ harrying and their own stiltedness causing them to handpass time and again when their forwards were screaming for long, quick ball.
Making matters worse was Vincent’s domination of midfield with Hugh Coghlan and Michael O’Shea ruling both the battles of the skies and the trenches. Coghlan had to depart inured after 14 minutes but the mould had already hardened.
Daylight began to appear between the teams 60 seconds later when Kevin Golden shipped a pass from Tiernan Diamond and the shot found the rigging via the keeper’s fingertips.
The impressive half-forward added a point five minutes later. It was to be a score that would prove a mere appetiser to the side’s second goal, Pat Gilroy tapping in with his fist after a slick four-man move. Everything that followed was just shadow boxing.
With three other point attempts landing in the arms of Darren Quinn, things could have been even rosier for the Dublin side and Tyrrellspass briefly seemed determined to make them pay with their best period of the game.
Martin Flanagan, so influential in the semi-final defeat of Moorefield, had spent the opening 20 minutes struggling to find his niche but a switch to full-forward saw him engineer two superb points when his side needed them most.
Unfortunately, the home team saw another 1-2 pass them by. A disallowed goal was controversial — as they invariably are — and referee Cormac Reilly’s decision to rule against Gavin Hoey’s fist to the net on the grounds of square ball looked harsh.
Two wides followed in quick succession from the chasers and two Brian Maloney points at the other end could only have deepened the sense of regret and desperation in Tyrrellspass hearts as they took their leave at the interval.
Any of their supporters looking to clutch at straws this morning will be able to point to the fact that their side did at least ‘win’ the second half by three points to two but, by then, Vins’ minds were already on the celebrations to come in Marino.
Any hope that some drama could be squeezed out of a disappointing day evaporated when two Tyrrellspass points early on in the second stanza were followed by a pair of limp wides.
Only Flanagan was living up to his billing for the team in blue. Denis Glennon managed only a single point all day while brother David will probably point to his long-term hamstring injury as reason for his ineffectiveness. The thing is, Vincent’s ‘names’ weren’t overly central to the plot either. Both Mossie Quinn and Dermot Connolly were peripheral. Instead, it was men like Golden, Gilroy and Maloney who shone up front, as well as Coghlan and O’Shea in the centre.
Tyrrellspass centre-back Trevor John Gonoud summed up his side’s frustrations when earning a second yellow card for an ugly swipe at an opponent in injury-time. It was an unedifying end to an unflattering occasion. Not that Vincent’s will mind.
Scorers: St Vincent’s: K Golden 1-2, P Gilroy 1-1, B Maloney 0-3 (1f), T Quinn 0-2f. Tyrrellspass: M Flanagan 0-3 (1f), David Glennon 0-2f, Denis Glennon 0-1, K Connell 0-1f.
ST VINCENT’S: M Savage; P Conlon, E Brady, H Gill; T Doyle, G Brennan, P Kelly; H Coghlan, M O’Shea; K Golden, T Diamond, P Gilroy; B Maloney, D Connolly, T Quinn. Subs: C Brady for Coghlan 14, R Traynor for Brady 57.
TYRRELLSPASS: D Quinn; T Newman, B Murphy, T O’Brien; S Arthur, TJ Gonoud, P Sheridan; A Corcoran, D Murphy; K Connell, G Hoey, K Scally; D Glennon, M Flanagan, D Glennon. Subs: T Murphy for A Corcoran 49, J Corcoran for Arthur 54, R Sheeran for Connell 57, R Dunbar for Scally 60.
Referee: C Reilly (Meath).