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5 Talking Points as St Vincent's win Leinster title against Portlaoise

The Dublin champions won out at O’Connor Park in Tullamore yesterday.

The St Vincent's players celebrate.
The St Vincent's players celebrate.
Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

1. St Vincent’s prove there is not a reliance on Brennan and Connolly

Bringing back two lynchpins from suspension is a boost to any side. Particularly so when they have won league, provincial and All-Ireland honours with their county this season. But while Dublin duo Ger Brennan and Diarmuid Connolly were ushered back into the St Vincent’s line-up, their teammates performance levels did not slump accordingly yesterday.

There was no reliance on those star men. Brennan made a vital relieving catch at the finish and a strong break upfield to lay on the assist for an important Mossy Quinn point. Connolly did kick a great score to ease St Vincent’s clear of their opponents.

But in general Connolly was expertly marshalled by the Portlaoise defence. That St Vincent’s still managed to chisel out victory owed a lot to the fact they were not reliant on those marquee names for inspiration.

2. Mossy Quinn points the way

The last play of the game in Tullamore saw Mossy Quinn seize the ball on the left wing in acres of space. He carried it forward and floated over the point that sealed St Vincent’s fifth Leinster title.

It brought Quinn’s tally on the day to 0-8 and was a fitting finale to his contribution. Over the course of St Vincent’s three games in Leinster and their two-game saga against Ballymun in the Dublin county final, Quinn has shot 1-34.

He’s struck 0-22 from placed balls but his inputs from play have improved. Yesterday Quinn raised four white flags from open play, matching his feat in the semi-final against Summerhill. He’s pointed the way for St Vincent’s and has been the player of the Leinster championship.

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Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

3. Portlaoise end season on low note again

For the third successive December, Portlaoise saw their 2013 endeavours conclude on a low note in Leinster. It’s been Dublin teams who have administered the punishment on each occasion.

In 2011 they lost a memorable semi-final after extra-time to St Brigid’s. Last year they were felled by three points by Ballymun Kickhams. Yesterday they amassed 3-9, a tally that would have been good enough to win the previous eight deciders in the province, but lost out by a three point margin again to St Vincent’s.

It was the highest score registered in history by a losing team in a Leinster senior final. Partaking in a brilliant, free-scoring encounter will be of little solace to them.

As manager Mick Lillis succinctly put it, “This is all about winning, nothing else matters. There is no consolation”.

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Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer

4. Did Portlaoise players put their hands up for the county?

New Laois boss Tomás O Flatharta was the sideline in O’Connor Park yesterday as a pundit for TG4. He saw the Laois representatives Portlaoise fall short in the Leinster final yet went away with food for thought.

When Laois exited the championship in the qualifiers in July against Donegal, Kieran Lillis started the game and Conor Boyle came on. They were the only two Portlaoise players to feature during that game.

Yesterday Cahir Healy was extremely resilient in defence, Paul Cahillane’s trickery caught the eye in attack while Craig Rogers was superb, particularly with his double blast to the net in the first-half.

Their availability for 2014 may be unclear but Portlaoise’s experienced campaigner Brian McCormack spoke last week about how more players from the club were being drafted in for next year. Some of them certainly impressed yesterday.

5. St Vincent’s All-Ireland ambitions

Of the teams left in the race for the Andy Merrigan Cup, St Vincent’s are the most recent champions. Their team is vastly changed since their 2008 triumph – for example their full-forward that day Pat Gilroy is now a former All-Ireland winning manager rather than a player.

Their starting fifteen yesterday contained only five players – Michael Savage, Hugh Gill, Brennan, Connolly and Quinn – that started five years ago while Kevin Golden and Tiernan Diamond came on as substitutes yesterday.

But they have plenty weapons in their armoury and will be glad of the break now after a frenzied recent schedule. Ballinderry or Kingdom Kerry Gaels loom next February in an All-Ireland semi-final tie.

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Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

What did the St Vincent’s and Portlaoise managers make of yesterday’s Leinster final?

“If you were more spiritual than me you might believe it’s something to do with that’

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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