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St Vincents boss laments 'mental pressure' placed on Dublin's county players

A long season for the likes of Diarmuid Connolly, Kevin McManamon, Ciaran Kilkenny and Dean Rock continues into next week.

ST VINCENTS QUALIFIED for the Dublin SFC semi-finals on Thursday night, but they made much harder work of it than many expected.

The Marino club were being offered at a price of 1/20 by some bookies to beat Lucan Sarsfields, but they led by just a point in injury-time until late scores from Diarmuid Connolly and Albert Martin sealed the 1-14 to 2-8 win.

Darren Gavin with Diarmuid Connolly Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Connolly one of many players at the tail end of a long inter-county season and, after lifting the Sam Maguire on October 2, he entered a club campaign which had to be completed in just over a month.

In next Wednesday’s semi-final, he’ll come up against fellow All-Ireland winners Dean Rock, John Small, Philly McMahon and, if he recovers from a groin injury, James McCarthy.

Meanwhile in the other last four clash, Kevin McManamon’s St Judes will take on Ciaran Kilkenny and Castleknock for a place in the final.

St Vincents manager Tommy Conroy, who was in charge when they lifted the All-Ireland club title in 2014, said the championship structures placed a huge pressure on the county players still involved with their clubs – both mental and physical.

“It’s been a long season particularly for the county players,” Conroy said. “They had to get themselves up for an All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry, you’ve all that emotional stuff going on and then you’ve to come out in an All-Ireland final against Mayo.

“Then you come out again [in a replay]. It’s not easy and then 10 days later you’re back into a Dublin championship, which is not a handy championship.

“Every game that you get is very tough. Again the mental pressure that puts on players, it’s not just the physical end of it it’s the mental end. To try and get themselves up for it, it’s very, very difficult for them.

It’s the same for everybody but it is very hard on an ordinary club player who is working, married, with kids and his year is just going on and on.

“And then the championship is played within four or five weeks. So it’s not easy.”

Connolly was quieter than normal, although he did demand possession in the 61st minute and kick a vital score that put a two-point gap between the teams and finally ended Lucan’s spirited fightback.

“Experienced players, when things aren’t going well they just seem to be able to do those things and Diarmuid is an exceptional player,” Conroy said.

Tommy Conroy Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“That’s the type of thing you want from a player like that, in a game like this where I think there was only a point or two in it, and you need somebody like that to grab it and he did.”

St Vincents will take on 2013 All-Ireland club finalists Ballymun next week, in a battle of the two powerhouses left in the competition. Conroy is well aware of the threat they pose.

“Look, it’s great that we’re playing Ballymun next week. We’ve just got to try and regroup and it’s not easy for both teams now a week later to go out and play again.

“It’s a fantastic fixture and we look forward to it. Ballymun are a super team with the likes of Dean Rock, Philly McMahon, John Small and Paddy Small now as well. So it’s a great game for Dublin people to come out and watch.

He added: “Ballymun would know us very well and we’d know them very well. The players they have on their squad and the young players they have coming through, it’s going to be a real challenge. A really tough game for us, but we look forward to it.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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