The defence to offence transitions by Dublin champions St Vincents are simplicity in motion, writes Peter McNamara.
For those that tuned in to watch the Dublin SFC final on Monday night expecting fireworks, gross disappointment would have replaced the feeling of curiosity.
Not that St Vincent’s will give two hoots.
If you were keeping an eye on eir Sport’s coverage of the competition, from the quarter-finals onwards, alongside the pre-match media coverage, the men from Marino and Ballymun Kickhams seemed primed to produce a thrilling finale.
Both teams are blessed with inter-county experience as well as others that have contested All-Ireland club finals without donning the Dublin jersey.
Therefore, expectations were justified. However, as the old saying goes, finals are about winning. If a team can entertain in the process, so be it.
Nevertheless, for Brian Mullins and St Vincent’s, it seemed, a 0-1 to 0-0 victory would have sufficed.
And the primary reason for this, you would imagine, is the door any sort of triumph in the Dublin county final opens.
The additional success the county champions from the capital have enjoyed in recent years is well-documented. If you get out of Dublin as the last team standing, St Patrick’s Day never appears as far away as it is for other clubs, such is the calibre of teams that emerge from the pale.
Additionally, allowing for the fact St Vincent’s were wasteful throughout the match at Parnell Park, Mullins and his management team will appreciate there is plenty of scope in the tank for improvement as they take their challenge into the provincial arena.
St Vincent’s play an incredibly structured game defensively which will ensure teams in Leinster will struggle to break them down. It is easier for them to operate in this manner because they know, when they counterattack, that the likes of Diarmuid Connolly and Tomás ‘Mossy’ Quinn can punish the opposition on the scoreboard.
They are shrewd as regards how they transition from defence to attack, though.
Shrewder than most senior club teams I have seen in the last number of months, in fact. Yet, their tactic of moving the ball from their defensive third out to the middle or into their half-forward line is as simple as it gets. They kick it beyond the opposing wall attempting to squeeze them into a turnover. Not exactly ground-breaking, is it? Yet, it works. Effectively.
Connolly and Cormac Diamond, among others, are then there to collect those possessions by dropping out of their offensive positions, if needs be.
Simplicity in motion. And yet, how often do we see teams coughing up possessions by trying to carry the ball beyond that wall instead of bypassing it?
The fact the game nowadays is so reliant on handpasses to create room for players, going full circle, back to utilising the foot to locate a teammate further up-field, is almost revolutionising the revolution.
Basically, if you want to guard against teams forcing turnovers inside of your defensive areas do not go laterally while seeking a way out of the conundrum you face. Players that do tend to tie themselves in knots.
Not the St Vincent’s defenders, however. It remains to be seen if the Marino outfit possesses enough about them this season to actually reach that All-Ireland Club SFC final next March.
The one nagging doubt regarding their capacity to go all the way again is they have been on the road for a few years now.
In fact, a number of faces that were present on Monday night were also floating about on St Patrick’s Day of 2008 as St Vincent’s defeated Nemo Rangers 1-11 to 0-13 at headquarters.
St Vincent’s, of course, also lifted the Andy Merrigan Cup in 2014 overcoming Castlebar Mitchels in the final so it is not as if the ultimate success remains a box that needs ticking down Marino way.
However, they remain a threat to all and sundry and will be strongly fancied now to at least win the Leinster championship.
Also, you might have noticed that Pat Gilroy is going to include Mickey Whelan on his Dublin senior hurling managerial ticket.
That is a clever move by Gilroy.
And, to top it all off, Danny Sutcliffe is expected to rejoin the Dublin senior hurling squad next term having returned from a spell in the States.
Sutcliffe, an All-Star in the past and arguably Dublin’s most talented attacker in the code, will, obviously, be a major asset for the side in 2018.
His return is a huge boost for Gilroy who revealed earlier this month that he would be really pleased to have him back on board.
The dual player is set to make his club return for St Jude’s in a football league game against Good Counsel next Sunday.
“We are delighted to have Danny back with St Jude’s,” the south Dublin club’s vice-chairman Gareth Evans explained to RTÉ Sport. “He’s a great hurler, a great clubman and brilliant with the kids.
“He is always up around the pitches and the alley; he gives his time to helping out the underage set-up.
“All the kids aspire to be like him and he’s a great role model. We aren’t sure what his plans are for Dublin but he’s a great addition to any set-up.”
Dublin, under Gilroy, could land an All-Ireland SHC title. The raw materials, provided they all make themselves available, are there to generate a title-winning team.
Plus, with Gilroy and Whelan steering the ship, their support base might grow.
Do not rule them out next summer.