Vincent's glory has Fennell finally feeling right at home
EAMONN Fennell's protracted campaign to transfer from O'Tooles GAA club to St Vincent's finally paid dividends for the All-Ireland-winning midfielder.
Fennell, a member of the successful Dublin side of 2011, treasures the Dublin county championship medal he won last Wednesday night when St Vincent's defeated reigning champions Ballymun Kickhams in a replay.
He played a big role in Sunday's Leinster SFC quarter-final when 14-man Vincent's defeated St Loman's of Mullingar, and now he's looking forward to the next challenge in the Leinster semi-final against Meath's Summerhill on November 24.
The dark days of the transfer saga are now behind him, and Fennell now feels genuinely part of St Vincent's.
"All the hard work was worth it in the end," he said. "I'm just happy to keep playing football and keep playing as we are now and hopefully we can go on from it.
"Without the support I've got from close friends and family, I probably wouldn't be here today because there's a lot of people that did a lot of work for me, and I have to thank the likes of Brian Mullins, Tony Diamond and all these people within Vincent's. You're only as strong as the people you have around you and I have a great group of lads within Vincent's and a great group of lads around me as friends.
"I always thought it was going to be a rough road leaving O'Tooles. I left to try and win things so I'm happy with how things are going at the moment. This is hopefully just the start, we have a lot more to do."
St Vincent's manager Tommy Conroy feels this current crop is the best side he's seen in the club in terms of spirit, and Fennell appreciates the manager's views.
"A great compliment," he said. "Vincent's are rich in history and hopefully this team can keep going."
Pat Gilroy had Fennell in the 2011 All-Ireland title-winning squad but Gilroy's successor, Jim Gavin, left the player off the panel for this year. Does Fennell see St Vincent's county success as a route back?
"I'm not really thinking about that," he said. "I just want to concentrate on the Vincent's thing and not have too many distractions going on around me because we have a great thing going, and that's all I care about at the moment."
Meanwhile, Tomás Quinn, another former Dubs star, believes the team can cope without the suspended Diarmuid Connolly and Ger Brennan if the latter's appeal against the red card he incurred against St Loman's is denied.
"Guys came on and played a big role," he said. "Guys have done it all year, and other guys are going to get an opportunity. It's not ideal, but you do what you have to do."