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Only one Tommy Conroy can finish on the winning side in clash of familiar Leinster rivals


Portlaoise boss Tommy Conroy. Damien Eagers / SPORTSFILE

Portlaoise boss Tommy Conroy. Damien Eagers / SPORTSFILE


Portlaoise boss Tommy Conroy. Damien Eagers / SPORTSFILE

Tommy Conroy will be the winning manager at Portlaoise on Sunday - but the big question is: which Tommy Conroy?

By coincidence, the respective managers of Portlaoise and St Vincent's share the same name, and they also share a single ambition - to see their side emerge from the AIB Leinster Club senior football quarter-final with a victory.

One of them is bound to be disappointed in this repeat of last year's provincial final pairing.

Conroy of Vincent's fame has guided the Dubs outfit to back-to-back county titles and the 2013-14 Leinster and All-Ireland crowns.

Conroy of Portlaoise is back as senior manager of his club for the first time in eight years.

He, too, has won county and Leinster championships as a manager, and in 2005, was in charge when Portlaoise failed narrowly in the All-Ireland final against Ballina Stephenites.

But Conroy's only target at this stage, having successfully negotiated the Laois campaign which resulted in Portlaoise winning their eighth successive county football crown, is to see the present generation of players reach the last four in Leinster.

The victory over Arles-Killeen in the county final on a scoreline of 2-14 to 0-9 was not as comfortable as it might appear.

"People look at the scoreline but we got two late goals, one was in injury time, and one was with two minutes to go.

"We were a bit better than we were in previous rounds but any person who knows the game, and was looking at it, would say that performance wouldn't get you anywhere near Vincent's on Sunday.

"I know people always say that but anybody who's been at any of our matches would attest to that. We're doing enough, but we're not really on fire," said Conroy.

AFL star Zach Tuohy of Carlton, who had featured in the Laois quarter-final and semi-final, was back in Australia and missed the final, but he is back home and will play against St Vincent's.

Tuohy's availability came to public notice early in the week, and Conroy made it clear that the player hasn't suddenly been rushed back to Ireland.

"Zach came home approximately two weeks ago. It's more a case that he hasn't been around because his sister was getting married, and he had a couple of family events. So he's come back to us this week and he's trained this week.

"He was coming back for that rather than for football as such," said Conroy.

Nevertheless, a fit and eager Zach Tuohy will add to the Portlaoise strength for the clash with champions St Vincent's, and they'll need every asset they can produce if the Laois side are to cause an upset.

Last year's meeting of these clubs in the provincial final yielded six goals before Vincent's got the verdict on a 3-12 to 3-9 scoreline, giving the Dublin side their fifth Leinster title, two behind record holders Portlaoise.

"I was at the Dublin final and I'd say Vincent's have obviously moved on in terms of their teamwork and confidence," said Conroy.

The Portlaoise manager appreciates the threat posed by Vincent's marquee forwards Diarmuid Connolly and Mossie Quinn, but said: "Their full-forward line is well capable of taking their scores outside of Quinn, so Vincent's have got a very good mix in their team.

"They've a lot of pace, and a lot of natural ball players."

Irish Independent