Diarmuid Connolly and Ger Brennan back in the frame for Vincents
DIARMUID Connolly and Ger Brennan can look forward to the Leinster Senior Club football final with their club St Vincent's -- if selected.
The two Dublin All-Ireland winners were in Parnell Park on Sunday to see their club-mates forge a path to the provincial decider against Portlaoise on December 8 with victory over Summerhill of Meath.
By the time the final is played, the suspensions imposed on Connolly and Brennan will have been served, but they cannot automatically expect a place in the team.
"I actually think it gives us a selection headache to tell you the truth. It's fantastic to have options and to have guys pushing for places. I would say the next week of training will be interesting," said St Vincent's manager Tommy Conroy. "We have options, and that's the great thing.''
There was a sense of relief and delight within the Marino club that Vincent's came through without the two suspended county stars, and undoubtedly their return is a boost to their options against Portlaoise.
Connolly, who was banned for a month after his dismissal in the Dublin final replay against Ballymun Kickhams, hailed the battling qualities of Vins after they defeated Meath champions Summerhill.
The 26-year-old was sent off following a clash with fellow Dub Philly McMahon and missed the Leinster quarter-final against St Loman's in Mullingar, and the Summerhill game, while Vins were reduced to 14 men after Brennan was sent off in Mullingar.
"Obviously it's a great feeling for the club to be back in the Leinster final,'' said Connolly. "After 2007-2008, we had a couple of rough years, but since 2008 this is the first time we've had a really good team, and a really good squad behind us.
"We haven't been overly great at underage level, but we've added two or three guys every season to the squad and they're really pushing us on. That's really the core of it."
The strength of the squad was evident in the victories over St Loman's and Summerhill, and Connolly praised the side's mental toughness.
"You've seen it two weeks ago when the lads dug it out with 14 men against Loman's down in Mullingar and they've done the exact same against Summerhill.
"There's serious belief in the panel. Me and Ger are back, if selected, for the final, so it's happy days," said Connolly.
The superbly talented Connolly lights up the football scene with his ability when he's on form.
At times, though, his hair-trigger reactions have drawn him into disciplinary problems.
Brennan, too, has the occasional 'red mist' moment, but Vins boss Conroy is philosophical about the last few weeks.
"It's a physical game and these things happen,'' added Conroy. "Regarding Ger in Mullingar, I think the only guy that saw that incident was the umpire. I spoke to Ger, and Ger said to me, 'I didn't strike him'. What can you do? You just get on with it."
Vincent's came through the match without any serious injury problems, and goalkeeper Michael Savage, who was not fit to start Sunday's match due to a stomach bug, is expected to be back in training this week.