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Brennan's red card, another bumper year for Connolly and more Dublin football final talking points

Newly crowned All-Star Connolly hasn’t lost a championship game on the football field for club or county in 2016.

1. A 28th title for brilliant St Vincent’s

ST VINCENT’S ARE back on top of the Dublin football tree. Their 28th senior football title leaves them 17 clear of their nearest challengers O’Tooles, who last lifted the trophy in 1946.

Diarmuid Connolly lifts the trophy Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Having gone from 1984 to 2006 without a championship title, Vincent’s are starting to replicated the sort of dominance they enjoyed in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

Tommy Conroy, who took over as manager in 2012, has steered the Marino club to county titles in three of the last four years. 35-year-old Tomas Quinn, who made his Vincent’s debut back in 2000, picked up his fourth county medal.

2. Bright lights don’t blind Castleknock

James Sherry on the attack Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The fear for Castleknock heading into this game was that they might be overawed by the occasion. But this well-coached outfit didn’t let the bright lights affect them. They crowded the middle and filtered bodies back into defence, frustrating the red-hot favourites.

After a slow start, Castleknock came roaring back into the contest and deservedly found themselves level at the break. After half-time, the Vinnies were a little more controlled in possession and Castleknock found scores from play hard to come by.

Although they were defeated, they must take solace in the fact they performed well for long-spells against a classy, battle-hardened team. Appearing in their first senior county final, this young Castleknock group equipped themselves quite well. The challenge for the west-Dublin club in 2017 is to prove they’re not one-hit wonders.

3. Ger Brennan’s red card

Ger Brennan Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Already carrying a yellow card, Ger Brennan’s clumsy high challenge on Kevin Kindlon in the 45th minute. It threatened to unhinge Vincent’s. Castleknock peeled off two quick-fire scores to get to within two.

Fortunately for Brennan his recklessness didn’t cost Vincent’s, although James Sherry came close to finding the net shortly after his dismissal. Had Brennan been on the field he likely would have snuffed out that chance.

They say the mark of true champions is how they react in the face of adversity and Vincent’s did so admirably. The 14 men left on the field had enough about them to see out the game.

4. Castleknock’s defensive game

Diarmuid Connolly is tackled by Ciaran Kilkenny Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

As we mentioned earlier, this was a well-drilled Castleknock side and they managed to clog up the main channels of attack for the first three quarters and drag their opponents into a street fight.

The ‘Knock played the first-half with Ciaran Kilkenny as a lone gunslinger in the full-forward line with the rest of the team withdrawing deep. He reverted outfield after half-time.

The first-time finalists commonly had as many as 14 men behind the ball as Vincent’s attacked, which really slowed the pace of the game.

The majority of Castleknock’s seven first-half points came from quick breakaways. After the opening 30 minutes, Vincent’s changed tack. Rather than pressing high, in the second-half Vincent’s allowed Castleknock bring out possession to their 45m line before they put pressure on the ball carrier.

That switch in styles Castleknock to just 0-3 after the break – all Des Carlos frees. That was the game’s turning point.

5. Another bumper year for Connolly

Diarmuid Connolly arrives for the game Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Connolly has enjoyed another bumper year. He hasn’t lost a championship game on the football field in 2016 – a remarkable achievement. With a Leinster club campaign still to come, the 29-year-old has a county medal to put with the medals (National League Division 1, Leinster SFC and All-Ireland SFC) and All-Star he’s already picked up this season.

Connolly is a serial winner and at this stage his medal cabinet must be bursting with silverware. He didn’t score today, but some of the passes he produced were out of this world. Simply a sublime footballer.

6. Leinster campaign next weekend

St Vincent's celebrate winning in the changing rooms Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The celebrations in the capital will be short-lived. Tommy Conroy’s men are straight into Leinster club action next weekend where they’ll face Carlow champions Palatine at Netwatch Cullen Park next Sunday, November 13.

The newly crowned Dublin champions are 9/4 favourites to lift the club All-Ireland on St Patrick’s Day. Offaly holders Rhode look like their biggest threat in the province, while Corofin, Dr Crokes, Slaughtneil, Castlebar or Kilcoo are all genuine contenders for the ultimate prize in club football.

Vincent’s have the know-how and talent to go all the way once again and back up their All-Ireland victories in 2008 and 2014. Another win in March would leave them level with Crossmaglen on three All-Irelands victories each in the last decade.

While Cross are in decline, having suffered a rare defeat in Armagh this year, Vincent’s are still flying the flag in Dublin. They’ll take some stopping.

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Castleknock give a brave display but Quinn and Connolly lead St Vincent’s to glory

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