Castleknock 0-10 St Vincent’s 0-15
Two words that go together like a horse and carriage thanks to the exploits of Jim Gavin’s senior footballers and now another, more localised force, has solidified its grip from within the neighbourhood of Marino.
Saturday’s defeat of Castleknock, the new kids on the block from the city’s western approaches who were competing in a first final, delivered St Vincent’s a third county title in four years.
It also atoned for last year’s shock decider loss to Ballyboden St Enda’s.
Vincent’s looked every bit like a team that will still be operating come Paddy’s Day but their 27th annexation of Dublin merits sufficient cause for reflection in itself given the quantity of quality teams in the city in modern times.
“It’s probably the sweetest of the titles that we won,” said forward Gavin Burke.
“We probably took it for granted for a few years there winning everything between the Leinsters and the All-Ireland so you do appreciate it that bit more when you get it back.
“Castleknock have really come of age this year and they are a young team so they will be around for a long time. You have Ballymun, Crokes, ’Boden. Any one of them can win it so, yeah, it is great to do it again.”
Next up is a Leinster Championship which they have already won half-a-dozen times before.
Claim one more, as they will be expected to do next month, and they will draw alongside Portlaoise on that particular roll of honour.
The Andy Merrigan Cup beckons beyond that.
There was a humility about Vincent’s on Saturday in their preference not to engage with questions about All-Irelands, but there will no doubt be a desire to erase the memory of their last attempt in 2015 which was ended by Corofin in the last four.
After all, hurt has already pushed them this far.
Ballyboden were considered a grade below the Vincent’s and Ballymuns of recent vintages when they fashioned an exit beyond the city walls last time and yet they still went on to claim the county’s fourth club All-Ireland in nine years last March.
Boden’s success owed more than a little to good fortune within Dublin itself, Leinster and yet again in the All-Ireland series, but their ultimate achievement made last year’s county final loss all the more difficult to swallow for this year’s champs.
“Absolutely,” said Vincent’s manager Tommy Conroy. “We were all hurt by that and pained by that and that’s taking nothing away from Ballyboden. They were excellent and went on and won an All-Ireland and it does spur you on.”
Vincent’s learned from that final.
There would be no slow start this time. No yawning gap on the scoreboard countenanced that would leave them with a mountain to climb. Sure enough, they never trailed here and experience, both individual and collective, stood out throughout.
Vincent’s were bigger than Castleknock, they boasted a starting XV with an average age three years older and that nous was highlighted by the evergreen Tomas Quinn who shot five points, three of them from play.
Castleknock did draw level on seven points apiece by the break, and Vincent’s lost Ger Brennan to a second yellow card with 15 minutes to go, but there was never a sense that the favourites were not fully at ease and in control.
Scores came easier to them.
They bullied Castleknock physically at times and they adapted seamlessly to the underdogs’ penchant for massed defensive ranks and endless fist passing across the lines.
This was a team at ease with itself and with what it does and that’s no surprise when a dozen of those who started here were in the line-up that got this glory run going with a defeat of Ballymun Kickhams in the county final three years ago.
There have been the usual nips and tucks along the journey. The back room has seen faces come and go and the odd intermediate and minor has filtered in to the senior ranks but change has been minimal, young blood infrequent. Six of the 15 in the final are thirtysomethings.
“We are the same squad that have been going for the last couple of years,” said Quinn who, at 35, is the daddy of them all.
“We don’t have 18 or 19-year-olds coming in to kind of freshen us up.
“The guys that are there coming in have been there for two or three years and they are very hungry. They want to come in, they have a point to prove and thankfully they’ve been doing that.” Watch this space. Again.
Scorers for Castleknock: D Carlos (0-5 frees); C Kilkenny and K Kindlon (both 0-2); E O’Brien (0-1).
Scorers for St Vincent’s: T Quinn (0-5, 2 frees); E Varley (0-4, 1 free); G Burke (0-2); S Carthy, Cormac Diamond, R Trainor and J Feeney (all 0-1).
CASTLEKNOCK: M Connolly; P Bourke, P Sherry, E O’Brien; G Hannigan, T Shiels, T Quinn; C Kilkenny, J Sherry; D Carlos, S Boland, B Galvin; M Galvin S Boland, C Lynch.
Subs: M Griffin for M Galvin (42); J Kindlon for Lynch (53); M Brady for B Galvin (56).
ST VINCENT’S: M Savage; M Concarr, J Curley, C Wilson; B Egan, G Brennan, Cameron Diamond; D Murphy, S Carthy; G Burke, D Connolly, Cormac Diamond; R Trainor, E Varley, T Quinn.
Subs: A Martin for D Murphy (33); J Feeney for Cormac Diamond (42); A Baxter for Varley (61).
Referee: D Sheppard (Round Towers, Lusk).
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