St Jude’s manager Padraic Monaghan pinpointed a powerful second-quarter showing as a crucial factor in his side’s stunning success over St Vincent’s in the Dublin SFC at Parnell Park yesterday.
The three-in-a-row chasing Vins were hot favourites to reach the decider on October 29 and they stormed into a four-point lead courtesy of points by Gavin Burke, Nathan Mullins, Eamonn Fennell and Tomás Quinn.
However, Jude’s hit 1-5 without reply to leave the Marino men reeling at the break and they never looked back after Seamus Ryan goaled on 42 minutes.
“It was not the best start but the lads really dug deep. At half-time they were back in the game again through a huge amount of hard work and effort. “Throughout the second half then they pushed on,” Monaghan acknowledged.”
While Diarmuid Connolly was once again held in reserve, Jude’s were able to call upon their own inter-county star in the shape of Kevin McManamon. He finally opened his side’s account in response to that early Vins blitz and an improving Jude’s found themselves on level terms with the interval in sight. They subsequently hit the front when Pádraic Clarke flicked to the net on 27 minutes and a long-distance McManamon free ensured the underdogs led 1-6 to 0-5 at the break
The introduction of Connolly and former Mayo footballer Enda Varley looked set to spark St Vincents back into life on the resumption, but their expected surge never materialised. A Simon King point extended the Jude’s cushion, before McManamon released the raiding Ryan for a composed finish to the Vincent’s net.
With Connolly struggling to make an impact, Vincent’s relied on frees from Quinn and Varley (two) to kept themselves within reach. Yet, thanks to late points by Niall Coakley and Chris Guckian, Jude’s comfortably sealed a nine-point triumph.
Standing in the way of their maiden success at this level will be Kilmacud Crokes, who were 2-9 to 0-9 victors over Ballyboden St Enda’s in Saturday’s first semi-final. This game was a precursor to next weekend’s hurling decider between the clubs and the Stillorgan men kept their double dreams alive with the help of first-half goals by Craig Dias and Shane Horan. Crokes’ joint-manager Johnny Magee was pleased to see his side displaying a ruthless streak when it mattered most.
“We took the goals well. The opportunities arose and we took them, which is great. The start of the second half we were sloppy in relation to our execution of getting scores and we could have pulled away a little bit more,” said Magee, who shares bainisteoir duties with Robbie Brennan.
“We’ve got work to do for the next day. We won’t get away with that. We were lucky in that sense.”
Dublin forward Paul Mannion is hoping to add a club crown to his ever-expanding list of honours and he converted three frees for Crokes over the hour. Staring into a five-point deficit (2-4 to 0-5) at the break, a combined tally of 0-8 by the Basquel brothers - Colm and Ryan - ensured Anthony Rainbow’s ‘Boden remained in contention on the restart. However, unanswered points via the boots of Mannion, Cian O’Connor and Andy McGowan eventually eased Crokes over the line. With a number of their squad still trying to get the measure of life at this grade, Magee felt the presence of a fit-again Cian O’Sullivan was pivotal in securing a first final berth since 2012.
“It’s our first year with the lads. It’s about us playing the way we want to play. We’ve got a couple of young lads in there,” Magee said. “Those lads haven’t experienced being in knockout football before. Having Cian O’Sullivan back today was a plus.”