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9 December 2014; #TheToughest – Hugh Gill of St.Vincent’s is pictured alongside Rhode GAA star Pauric Sullivan ahead of the AIB GAA Leinster Senior Football Club Championship Final on the 14th of December in Navan at 2pm. St. Vincent’s are the current holders of #TheToughest title in Leinster and will look to defend their crown against Offaly side. For exclusive content and to see why the AIB Club Championships are #TheToughest follow us @AIB_GAA and on Facebook at facebook.com/AIBGAA. Johnstown House, Enfield, Co Meath
 Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

9 December 2014; #TheToughest – Hugh Gill of St.Vincent’s is pictured alongside Rhode GAA star Pauric Sullivan ahead of the AIB GAA Leinster Senior Football Club Championship Final on the 14th of December in Navan at 2pm. St. Vincent’s are the current holders of #TheToughest title in Leinster and will look to defend their crown against Offaly side. For exclusive content and to see why the AIB Club Championships are #TheToughest follow us @AIB_GAA and on Facebook at facebook.com/AIBGAA. Johnstown House, Enfield, Co Meath Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

9 December 2014; #TheToughest – Hugh Gill of St.Vincent’s is pictured alongside Rhode GAA star Pauric Sullivan ahead of the AIB GAA Leinster Senior Football Club Championship Final on the 14th of December in Navan at 2pm. St. Vincent’s are the current holders of #TheToughest title in Leinster and will look to defend their crown against Offaly side. For exclusive content and to see why the AIB Club Championships are #TheToughest follow us @AIB_GAA and on Facebook at facebook.com/AIBGAA. Johnstown House, Enfield, Co Meath Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

WE wouldn't be so glib as to reduce tomorrow's Leinster club football final to the 'Battle of the Strikeforces' but you'd be remiss not to ascribe it serious importance.

We've mulled and considered the individual and collective merits of Diarmuid Connolly and Mossy Quinn so often on these pages it's not worth doing again.

So what of Niall McNamee and Anton Sullivan?

"In actual fact, if you were to mark the two, they would probably come up around equal," says Luke Dempsey, against whose Moorefield side, the Offaly duo scored 1-9 (0-3f) in the semi-final.

"Connolly probably has the greatest ability, the ability to do the spectacular … but he probably comes in and out of it.

effectively

"If you were marking them out of 20, they would both come up around 18. Sullivan always comes deep," he explains. "And he's very, very fast. McNamee stays up high and he runs laterally, very effectively. And he's as fit as I've seen him.

"They have a real tenacious, hard-working half-forward line who make the space for the boys inside so, they're just lethal. They're going to cause damage no matter what Vincent's do."

And doubtless, Rhode are fresh too, not always the prognosis attached to teams at this late stage in the football year.

As Dempsey points out: "It's a huge advantage having an easy county championship. It really is. Because it does take a lot out of you."

To illustrate his point, Moorefield were shorn of four of their first choice back line in the semi-final and both midfielders had been struck by either illness or injury.

"We've worked very hard this year," confirms Rhode boss Pat Daly. "We worked hard last year, but we've worked even harder this year.

"During the Offaly championship, we were training in between games.

"No disrespect to some teams, but once you win three games you're out of the group. If you top the group you're in the semi-final, so we were training throughout."

There's also an inherent confidence in this Rhode team, unperturbed - seemingly - by the loss of two Leinster finals in the past six years.

So that's Rhode in a nutshell.

What of Vincent's?

And more to the point, what of Vincent's in-game fade-outs, the chief (possibly only) cause for worry in an otherwise humming team.

Against Portlaoise, they waltzed through for an early 1-3, missed a selection box worth of sweet goal chances and contrived to barely participate for the remainder of the half, providing the home side with some dangerous hope.

Against Garycastle, a match which, by wide consensus, they would coast through, they buried two first half goals, turned down a few more and then were somehow level in the second half.

"We have been less than ruthless at times," admitted selector Neil Curran this week.

"And I think that's something we need to work on. But it is difficult to play the perfect game for 60 minutes so you try to have your purple patch, get it in and then the opposition are going to have theirs at some stage.

"What they have proved is that even though Garycastle did come back at us, we did pull away in the end. What they do have as a panel is a calmness. A real sense that we can solve these problems. We can think this through."

In both of the above games, Vincent's accelerated towards the final whistle but the point is that a more clinical team may take greater advantage of these period of narcolepsy.

Says Hugh Gill: "We've had a look at it. We probably went to sleep for 20 minutes against Garycastle. And you see what happens when it does happen.

"It allowed them to come back into the game. We showed resolve to drag ourselves back in to get the result. So as best we can, we're going to play for 60 minutes and hopefully get a result."

Because if St Vincent's do produce the magical 60 minutes performance, there's not a club team in Ireland just now who will beat them.

artillery

If they fall shy - again - Rhode have both the confidence and the scoring artillery to do it.

Despite their frequent wobbles though, Vincent's haven't lost a game of consequence in over two years. You'd be silly then to predict anything other than the continuation of that run.

ODDS: St Vincent's 1/4, Draw 10/1, Rhode 7/2

VERDICT: St Vincent's


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