Palatine (Carlow) 0-8 St Vincent’s (Dublin) 0-16: Palatine co-manager Mick Lillis claimed Diarmuid Connolly is an easy target after the St Vincent’s captain was black-carded in the first half of this Leinster club SFC quarter-final in Carlow yesterday.
Connolly’s removal from the game for an off-the-ball incident involving Shane O’Neill, who was yellow carded for his part, didn’t impact too much on the Dublin champions as they came into their own in the second half having led by two points, 0-5 to 0-3, at the break, despite going almost 23 minutes without a score.
St Vincent’s manager Tommy Conroy wasn’t drawn too much on the 21st-minute decision made by referee Niall Ward after he consulted with one of his umpires. However, Lillis felt the All Star forward is getting a hard time of it from match officials.
“When our lad (O’Neill) was called over, I thought it was he was getting the black card because he ended up on the ground as well. So I actually didn’t see it, so I hadn’t a clue. I’m sorry actually that Connolly was sent off because I think he’s an easy target at times. He’s a real quality player. The punters came here today, they wanted to see Connolly as well and I just think he’s a bit unfortunate.
“Look, he’s a marvellous footballer. He really is. He’s the best in the business, any team would love to have him – and I didn’t jump for joy when he was sent off, to be honest with you, even though he is a great player. I just thought sometimes – and I didn’t see it so I can’t call it – maybe sometimes it’s an easy call.”
Conroy remarked: “I think the two of them fell to the ground, or one of them fell to the ground. Look, I mean I don’t know whether the referee even saw it, he might have consulted with one of the umpires or one of the linesmen. It is what it is.”
Asked if Connolly was being provoked a lot, Conroy shrugged: “Well I don’t know if it’s buttons being pushed, he’s going to be marked very tightly because of who he is and the talented player that he is. That’s to be expected. I’m sure when the opposition sit down they’re saying, ‘how are we going to stop this guy?’ That’s part and parcel of the game and I think he understands it as well. He copes with it very well, the attention that he gets.”
After a hectic playing schedule in recent weeks, St Vincent’s at least have this weekend off before they face Longford champions St Columba’s in Sunday week’s provincial semi-final. They weren’t spectacular here and Palatine kept them honest for the majority of the game but then they could be forgiven for being a little leggy.
They started impressively, mind, cultivating a lead which they never relinquished, going 0-4 to 0-0 after just five minutes. Cormac Diamond kicked two of the points and was to add another three in a splendid individual showing.
St Vincent’s, though, racked up eight wides by the break and scored one further point for the remainder of the half, Diamond ending a 22-minute spell without a score. Palatine eventually caught up to the pace of the game and seemed inspired after Connolly’s exit, scoring two points in as many minutes.
“The first half, I thought we were doing a lot of things well but we’d a lot of basic errors which is unlike us,” said Conroy. “We gave the ball away, once we sorted that out I thought the performance in the second half was a lot more solid. I wasn’t worried. As long as we kept to the things that we had talked about at half-time which was moving the ball well, moving it quickly and just keeping our work-rate.”
It certainly was and the game turned more in their favour between the 41st and 49th minute when they sent over five unanswered points, Tomás Quinn showing all his experience in guiding his team. Shane Carthy was impressive too and Palatine wilted as St Vincent’s were able to call on solid reinforcements, Albert Martin pointing with his first touch of the ball.
Leading 0-13 to 0-6, the final 10 minutes were a procession for the visitors. Lillis couldn’t but be impressed: “People will probably look at that today and say, ‘Ah, they could only beat Palatine by seven or eight points; they’re not as good as they were’. I’ll guarantee you they will be the team to beat in Leinster. There’s still good teams left in Leinster, but I don’t think there’s anybody better than Vincent’s.”
Scorers for Palatine:
S. O’Neill (0-3, 1 free); J. Kenny, J. Kane, S. Reilly, C. Crowley, B. Kelly (free) (0-1 each).
Scorers for St Vincent’s:
T. Quinn (3 frees), C. Diamond (0-5 each); S. Carthy (0-3); E. Varley, A. Martin, R. Trainor (0-1 each).
C. Kearney; C. Lawlor, C. O’Doherty, M. Rennick; J. Brennan, C. Crowley, S. Reilly; N. Reid, J. Kane; S. O’Neill, C. Moran, D. Reid; Conor Crowley, J. Kenny, T. Kenny.
P. Reid for J. Kenny (40); J. Reid for S. Reilly (54); B. Kelly for S. O’Neill (59).
M. Savage; C. Wilson, J. Curley, M. Concarr; B. Egan, G. Brennan, Cameron Diamond; D. Murphy, S. Carthy; G. Burke, D. Connolly, Cormac Diamond; R. Trainor, E. Varley, T. Quinn.
Subs for St Vincent’s:
J. Feeney for D. Connolly (black, 20); A. Martin for D. Murphy (34); A. Baxter for E. Varley (41); K. Golden for G. Burke (48); J. McCusker for R. Trainor (55); F. Breathnach for G. Brennan (57).
N. Ward (Westmeath).
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