The DCU intermediate football side’s league campaign came to a halt on Monday evening last week as they went down by six points to UCC. The Cork hosts came out victors on a scoreline of 2-12 to 1-9 but the performance was a gutsy one, according to manager Tommy Conroy.
“We were a bit unlucky I think, we had a poor start. I think we were 2-7 to two points down at half time after a long journey down but the lads were great. They turned around and were very unlucky at the end, we lost out by six points but it was one goal in the second half which turned it really.
“We got them back to three points, and it was a great effort by the lads to go all the way down to Cork on a Monday evening and play a game at 6.30pm and then get straight back on a bus and not arrive home until midnight. It was great and I couldn’t commend the guys enough for what they did on Monday.”
After a successful spring for the intermediate side, Conroy was particularly pleased with the attitude of the players in his squad and it seems that the gritty determination of the squad hasn’t changed with the transition of players.
“I’ve always said that in the last three years I’ve been involved with DCU, the attitude of the players has been fantastic. They really have a never say die attitude and it’s like they all know each other even though they’re from all different part of the country, different clubs but when they put on the jersey of DCU, they’re like a club team and I couldn’t commend them enough from seeing them come through freshers into intermediate and go onto Sigerson.
“They’re great credit to DCU and to the people where they come from, but I think that’s indicative of the GAA. There’s a great spirit and once you get a group of lads together and you bond them, it’s just fantastic to work with.”
The Championship now beckons for the intermediate side after Christmas, but there’s no break from the sidelines for Conroy with his St. Vincent’s side plotting a course through the Leinster club championship. In recent weeks, he’s seen the side win the Dublin county championship after an epic two-match battle with Ballymun Kickhams before a narrow win over St. Loman’s in the first match of the provincial stage.
“It’s been a hectic couple of weeks but it’s a nice headache to have. After winning the Dublin championship, to go straight out a couple of days later and play the Westmeath champions so it’s been hectic but very welcome.”
Both clashes with Ballymun in Parnell Park were outstanding contests and Conroy believes a lot of luck was needed to gain another piece of silverware for the club.
“I think they were two great games. Anybody that I’ve spoken to that was neutral thought it was a fantastic game of football the first day. Two very good teams and Ballymun have been great champions, and I think we rode our luck maybe the first day and indeed the second day in the replay, and we were just fortunate to come out winning by a point on the second day. But two great games and really I think both teams were a credit to their clubs and to their localities as well.”
Dublin famously goes against the tradition that several counties adopt by electing not to deliberately hand the inter-county team’s armband to a county championship winner. Needless to say, this means that none of Conroy’s side will likely captain their county next season. Conroy doesn’t mind, however.
“In Dublin, it’s been a case of the management team pick the right guy and that’s the way it should stay. No issue with that at all. I think Steven Cluxton has done a fantastic job, I think Bryan Cullen did a fantastic job and players before them did great jobs so I think that’s something that’s down for the management to decide.”
St. Vincent’s are in action again this Sunday against Summerhill from Meath, and Conroy fully expects the encounter to be equally as close as the St. Loman’s clash in the previous round.
“We had a very tough challenge in Mullingar last Sunday week, and I think we’ll have an equally tough challenge against Summerhill from Meath, and I’m not even looking past that. I wouldn’t even dare do that.
“Summerhill, they’re Meath champions, they have to be respected. I think they had a very narrow victory over Navan O’Mahonys in the (county) quarter-final, they beat a good Na Fianna team in the final and they’ve beaten a very, very well-prepared team from Louth, Newtown Blues, so we won’t be taking anything for granted against them on Sunday in Parnell Park.”
It is a classic Dublin-Meath encounter, and the rivalry that is plainly visible at inter-county level won’t be lacking in club form at the weekend.
“I don’t think any Meath team has ever had any fear coming up against a Dublin county side or a Dublin club side. I can remember going back to 2007, 2008, we came up against Seneschalstown and were very fortunate to get a draw in Parnell Park.
“I think Summerhill will show us no respect and why should they? They’re county champions in their own right and I think Meath-Dublin games, no matter if they’re club games, they just take on a life of their own and we’ve got to cope, I believe, with being favourites for this which is probably not a nice position for us to be in. We prefer being underdogs.”
Opportunity knocks for Vincent’s to progress another round, but also for a couple of their fringe players, with two central figures out of contention for Sunday’s tie: “We’re without Diarmuid Connolly and we’re without Ger Brennan. Now it’s time for other people to step up and fill those gaps.”
Image Credit: Sportsfile