CONROY: ‘GER BRENNAN IS THE SORT OF FELLA YOU’D LOVE TO HAVE’
IF there’s a soft spot in this St Vincent’s team, it’s probably not unkind on Portlaoise to surmise that they never quite located it, let alone applied any significant pressure, in O’Moore Park almost a fortnight back.
Which isn’t to say that they hadn’t ideas or didn’t try.
“To me, every team has weak links, every team can be got at,” says Portlaoise’s manager, Tommy Conroy, through the grimey bifocals of hindsight and heavy defeat.
“But I think you need to start early against them. I don’t think you can give them a head start. You can’t give them goals. They’re like Dublin…they breath on goals.”
“They don’t play defensively really but they have forwards who are so dynamic and so fast they’re always tracking back,” Conroy explains.
“And then (Ger) Brennan is covering the long ball and the centre, the midfielders are dropping off straight away to take up his position.
“We just had tried to get quick ball into the inside line but Brennan was cutting a lot of that off.
“So unless you’re really good in terms of your support play or you’re really good at driving through the middle and make gaps that way…maybe there’s a bit of joy to get there.”
For context, Conroy’s critique is a ‘what-would-you-do-if-you-could-do-it-all-over-again?’ sort of hypothesis.
And you get the impression, he’s not convinced a second crack would yield anything more fruitful than Portlaoise’s first.
“(Gavin) Burke is an obvious standout candidate,” he says when pressed for non inter-county Vincent’s players of an inter-county standard.
“(Shane) Carthy was very good the last day but whether he’s that good every day, I don’t know.
“The inside forwards, they’re typical Dublin club forwards. They’re busy and if it’s going well for them…whether they’re up to county standard, it depends on where you’re talking about.
“But the things about Vincent’s is, whether about the likes of Connolly or Quinn…it’s about the whole.
“They have the couple of marquee players. They have the tight full-back line. They have the more expansive half-back line. They have the half-forwards doing the business and then the lads inside, if they get enough ball they will score.”
In particular, Conroy was sold on the day by the performance of Ger Brennan.
“I can’t underestimate how anybody wouldn’t be sold on him, whether it’s county level or club level,” he says.
“Dublin and St Vincent’s are always better when they have him there.
“OK, he’s not flying around the place but he has a great positional awareness, he has a great sense of danger and when to do the right thing at the right time.
“When, maybe, to take a fella out. You need that. Every team needs those characters. And that’s a strength.
“For people to be….I don’t know…he’s the sort of fella you’d love to have.”
So, can they be stopped on Sunday? Or, indeed, this side of Christmas?
“It’s very hard for anybody, to be honest,” Conroy stresses.
“Rhode are still there. They’ve never done it.
“Moorefield haven’t a great history of doing it in Leinster but they have the physical strength and as the game goes deeper into December, that could become an issue.
“They will have a lot of big, physical players and aren’t able to mix it.
“But it’s the pace that they have around the field. It’s massive.”
“Looking at the way it’s going around the country….anyone can be caught. But they have to be reasonably firm favourites for an All-Ireland, don’t they?”(The Herald)