Mark Loftus surrounded by Ballyboden St-Enda's players. Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

6 talking points as St Vincent's and St Oliver Plunkett reach Dublin final

A standout performance from Dublin footballer Diarmuid Connolly and more thoughts from yesterday’s action.

Updated at 14.28

1. Another star show from Diarmuid Connolly

NEXT FRIDAY NIGHT the 2014 Footballer of the Year will be announced and Diarmuid Connolly is one of three players in the running for that award. Connolly has done plenty on the inter-county scene this year to merit a nomination but if club form could be factored into deciding the outcome, his grounds for selection would be even more persuasive.

Connolly has been magnificent all year for St Vincent’s. The high water mark was his St Patrick’s Day destruction of Castlebar Mitchels but in a new club campaign he continues to show the way. Yesterday he was magnificent and his array of skills were so potent that Ballyboden could not cope. 1-6 from play showed his worth and the goal was sublime.

2. Plunkett’s defence the platform for dominance

The first semi-final yesterday saw a thoroughly dominant display by St Oliver Plunkett and at the heart of their showing was a great defensive showing. After blunting Ballymun Kickhams in the last round, they repeated the trick on this occasion against St Judes.

With 12 men regularly flooded behind the ball, the winners frustrated their opponents. They were well-drilled, organised and disciplined. Shane Lyons, Declan Lally and James Brogan helped co-ordinate operations with Alan O’Mara a sound presence behind in goal. Only shipping four points showed just how impressive their defensive effort was.

3. Ballyboden challenge champions but miss MacAuley

Ger Brennan and Conal Keaney Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

(St Vincent’s Ger Brennan and Conal Keaney of Ballyboden St-Enda’s)

Ballyboden lost out by seven points yesterday but the final score didn’t accurately reflect the level of performance they served up and how strongly they challenged champions St Vincent’s. Sam Moloney, Declan O’Mahony, Stephen Hiney and Conal Keaney ensured they never lost hope.

Despite struggling to cope with the magnificence of Diarmuid Connolly, Ballyboden ploughed on and were only two points adrift with seven minutes left. The energy had been zapped from them by that juncture though and St Vincent’s hit their stride to close out the game. Ballyboden had cause to rue the absence of talisman Michael Darragh MacAuley through injury and must have wondered if his availability would have influenced a different result.

4. St Judes never get going

In contrast to Ballyboden, St Judes would have been aware that their race was run before the end of the first semi-final. A deeply disappointing second-half showing was the primary source of their woes. They only trailed by two at the break but that had stretched to five after the third quarter and had pushed out to ten by the final whistle.

They simply never got going and only amassing four points was a clear reminder of their struggles. Indeed three of those points had been chalked up by the 21st minute and only notching a single score thereafter was always going to hurt them. Star man Kevin McManamon was held scoreless and the cohesion of the Plunkett’s rearguard made for a tough afternoon for the St Judes forwards.

5. Plunkett’s back chasing first title

Success yesterday propels St Oliver Plunkett to a final date on Bank Holiday Monday and a chance to break their Dublin senior football hoodoo. They contested the 2008 final and the 2011 final, pushing Kilmacud Crokes and St Brigid’s respectively all the way to the finish line on those occasions. But in each game they slipped to a two-point loss and were left nursing regrets.

On paper they have a fine side with a clutch of Brogans, the Dublin experience of Ross McConnell and Declan Lally while Cavan’s O’Mara and Fermanagh’s Lyons are also key figures. Gareth ‘Nesty’ Smith was brilliant yesteday as a target man. The system that saw them triumph against St Judes is one they will hope to replicate Monday week on the biggest Dublin club stage.

6. St Vincent’s on course to retain their title

In terms of tradition, St Vincent’s are the undisputed kingpins of Dublin club football and they have produced several famous faces over the years. Their county title win last year was cherished – along with the subsequent Leinster and All-Ireland crowns – as they had only claimed one Dublin crown in nearly three decades.

Retaining the Dublin title would be a significant feat for this group of players and for the club. You have to go back to the 1970s for the last time St Vincent’s did back-to-back county triumphs. A victory Monday week would be proof of this team’s consistency and standing. Their form is certainly good and players like Brennan, Fennell, Connolly and Quinn will instil them with plenty confidence.

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