Saturday 16 December 2017

Vincent's show killer instinct to end Castleknock's dream

Dublin SFC final: St Vincent's 0-15 Castleknock 0-10

St Vincent’s captain Diarmuid Connolly celebrates at the final whistle. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
St Vincent’s captain Diarmuid Connolly celebrates at the final whistle. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

The script was written for Castleknock to complete a Hollywood-style ascension to the top of Dublin club football.

We all knew the facts and figures going into Saturday's game. Only founded in 1998, junior as recently as 2012. In many ways, St Vincent's were the perfect opponents for club football's feel good story of the year to finish on. Taking down Dublin's most decorated club would be the perfect ending to a brilliant rags to riches story.

And for about three quarters of the game, through guts and guile, Castleknock gave themselves a shot at it. They got out of the blocks slowly as Vincent's opened up a three-point (0-4 to 0-1) lead but as the half wore on, the underdogs settled. Ciaran Kilkenny would need a big game for Castleknock and he landed two beautiful scores off either foot in the first half. Kevin Kindlon chipped in with two fine scores too.

At the other end, former Mayo footballer Enda Varley and Tomas Quinn were finding gaps in an otherwise disciplined Castleknock defence. Castleknock never led in the game but they never gave up either and two late pointed frees from Des Carlos saw them go in level at the break (0-7 to 0-7).

If there was any doubt that Vincent's would get a stern examination, it had completely disappeared by half-time.

The David and Goliath nature of the fixture meant Parnell Park edged close to capacity but the underdogs would need a quick start to the second half although it never came.

St Vincent’s Enda Varley scores a point. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
St Vincent’s Enda Varley scores a point. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Instead, the ever-reliable Mossy Quinn kicked three of the first four points of the second half and set Shane Carthy up for the other one.

At four points up with less than 20 minutes to go, they looked to be firmly in control before Vincent's gave them a glimmer of hope. Ger Brennan, who had already been booked, cleaned Kindlon out. The referee had little choice but to show him a second yellow. Carlos pointed the free before Kilkenny bought another one from close range. Suddenly the gap was down to two points against 14 men.

For Castleknock, history beckoned.

But they are not big on sentiment around Marino. And having lost last year's final to Ballyboden when they were favourites, they weren't about to repeat the mistake.

St Vincent's captain Diarmuid Connolly lifts the Clery Cup. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
St Vincent's captain Diarmuid Connolly lifts the Clery Cup. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

By the time the last ten minutes rolled around, the physical superiority of Vincent's in a number of positions started to tell. Sligo's Brendan Egan was breaking up Castleknock attacks. Diarmuid Connolly, who had largely been on the periphery of the game, produced a couple of party pieces with some outstanding kick passing as the gaps started to show.

You felt Castleknock needed to raise a green flag to reinvigorate their challenge. And former Fermanagh player James Sherry got a brief sight of Michael Savage's goal only to see his shot excellently blocked. With that any chance of Castleknock completing the fairy tale was gone. From Brennan's dismissal to the final whistle, Vincent's outscored Castleknock 0-4 to 0-3 to secure a 27th Dublin SFC title.

And after moving from his native Garrymore, Varley insisted securing a championship with his adopted side was "special".

"Winning any county title is special," he said. "This is my first year, the first goal was to get on the team and see where that brought me. We have a very competitive squad, the boys always empty the bench and they add to the game.

"I know its a cliché but it is a 21 or 22-man panel and the boys who came on did well. (In) the Ballymun, Lucan and Na Fianna (games) when they came on they made a difference and got us over the line."

St Vincent's strength was underlined when neither Lorcan Smyth, who has lined out for Westmeath, nor former Galway footballer Fiachra Breathnach saw action off the bench.

"That shows you the depth of the panel. Coming into the Vincent's panel I didn't know what to expect. I just wanted to get the head down and work hard and the boys will respect you after that, the same with everything in life," Varley added.

Despite his good showing, Varley, who has just turned 30, ruled out a possible return to county football.

"Ah the travelling," he said. "I did it for six years up and down the road, I don't think people realise the commitment the Mayo boys give to their county.

"I have serious admiration for them, anyone that does it you are coming up and down the road twice a week and it is tough."

Vincent's face Carlow champions Palatine in Netwatch Cullen Park next Sunday.

"I'd be a fairly competitive guy by nature. I knew coming in it was a competitive squad. Anyone who knows me knows my attitude is fairly good so I wanted to see where that got me. There's huge competition in the team and we are thrilled to get over Castleknock. After Ballyboden last year the boys were hurting. We'll celebrate now and see about next week."

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 Murphy (33), J Feeney for Cormac Diamond (42), A Baxter for Varley (60).

Castleknock: M Connolly; P Bourke, P Sherry, E O'Brien; G Hannigan, T Shiels, T Quinn; C Kilkenny, S Boland; D Carlos, B Galvin, K Kindlon; M Galvin, J Sherry, C Lynch Subs: M Griffin for M Galvin (42), J Kindlon for Lynch (53), M Brady for B Galvin (56).

SCORERS - St Vincent's: T Quinn 0-5 (2f), E Varley 0-4 (1f), G Burke 0-2, Cormac Diamond, S Carthy, R Trainor, J Feeney 0-1 each. Castleknock: D Carlos 0-5 (all frees), C Kilkenny, K Kindlon 0-2 each, E O'Brien 0-1. 

Ref: D Sheppard (Round Towers, Lusk).

Irish Independent

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