The manager of the recently crowned All-Ireland club football champions says the realisation of what his team achieved last week has yet to set in for him and a number of his squad, which included eight current DCU students as well as seven graduates.
St Vincent’s manager Tommy Conroy feels it has been the community around the club that has benefitted the most from their recent All-Ireland win over Castlebar Mitchells.
“People in the club have got great enjoyment out of not only the Dublin Championship, but the journey we went on, Leinster and then ultimately the All-Ireland final. It might take a day or even a couple more weeks for what we’ve achieved to sink in, and in time maybe we will realise just what we really have achieved.”
St. Patrick’s Day saw St Vincent’s claim their third All-Ireland Club Championship, and they claimed their fifth Leinster crown on their way to Croke Park. The final itself was heralded as a great advert for the Club Championship in a year in which it was heavily publicised, and this is something Conroy firmly believes to be true.
“Looking back on it, it was a very open game and I think the neutrals at the game thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it was a great advert for the standard of club players and a great advert for the game and the GAA in general.”
Artane-Beaumont man Diarmuid Connolly was outstanding for St Vincent’s on the day, scoring two goals and five points to clinch the trophy for his team and earn numerous plaudits in the following days. However, Conroy was keen to emphasise that the win was down to the effort of the squad throughout the championship rather than just one man on the day.
“Diarmuid is an outstanding talent and on the day he had an exceptional game and had a very good individual performance, but we had good individual performances all around the park. Our full-back line and backline in general did very well. Diarmuid can’t do this on his own. It’s also down to other people around him making him look good and opening up the space for him.”
Conroy believes that for a team to play to their ability, it is about players’ performances bringing out the best in their teammates and, ultimately, bringing out the best in their team as a unit. He went on to praise the attitude of the players who found themselves on the periphery of the squad, and credited them as much as the starting 15 for adding so much to the squad and ensuring everyone had to be at the top of their game to make the side.
“Unfortunately we can only start 15 players and bring on six, but we would not be in the position we are without the 35 being as committed as they are to the cause. Training is so good because everybody is lifting it and the intensity in training and internal matches is very good.”
The former All-Star was stunned by the impact the win had on the community. Scores of people turned out to welcome the team home on the evening of the game.
“We returned on Monday evening and the floodlights were on. And the amount of kids out playing was phenomenal, the amount of young people that were around playing and had been swept away by the team and that swept us away.”
Indeed, Conroy feels those who work at the grassroots level of Dublin football don’t get the recognition they deserve. He believes the work put in at underage level over the past number of years is now beginning to bear fruit, with young players consistently challenging for places on the Dublin team each year.
“Credit is due to the people who work in the juvenile sections of the club, and not just our club. This is obvious when you see the way Dublin football is at the moment. I think that is a credit to everybody who is working at underage level. They probably don’t get the recognition they deserve and we see the end product at U21 level and senior level.”
Looking at his own future, Conroy refused to speculate on whether or not his future lies as St Vincent’s manager. His two-year term as manager ended this year, and he has previously said he would be happy to pass on the reigns if it was to come to that.
“At the moment I haven’t made a decision one way or another. I’m not leaning any way and I’ve discussed it at home with a very patient wife and with those involved in the club, but I will have a decision in the next week or two.”
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