Jude’s Red Cards Draw Down Curtain Prematurely as Vincent’s March On

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St Vincent’s 4-12 – 1-12 St. Jude’s

Initially, it was every bit the intriguing battle we had hoped for as Jude’s took on the holders, Vincent’s, in the Dublin Senior Football Championship semi-final.

Unfortunately, with the game finely balanced, two second half red cards for Jude’s turned their task into mission impossible, as Vincent’s ran in goals for fun in the final quarter, fifteen against thirteen.

Mark Sweeney could only blame himself for an unnecessary tackle which saw him receive his second card. The second, which saw Judes’ keeper, Paul Copeland red carded, was perhaps a more controversial call, particularly when weighed up against a similar tackle by Vincent’s man in the first half.

It was a sad way for such an intriguing battle to end, with so many of the tactical questions, yet unanswered.

As we’ve come to expect from Jude’s, the most meticulous and premeditated set-up saw them ground the the Vincent’s machine to a halt in the first half, only for a Nathan Mullins goal from midfield to put the Marino men in front, when they looked like less fluid than we tend to expect.

With superbly methodical “pick and poke” attacking and equally meticulous defending, Jude’s would open up a 0-4 to 0-2 lead by the tenth minute with scores from four different sources – Ross O’Brien, Kevin McManamon, Niall Coakley and Naill O’Shea being fouled for a free.

The tactics were intriguing from the off with each side interchanging positions all over the field. Diarmuid Connolly, Enda Varley and Lorcan Gavlin intermittently swapped between full forward and half forward/midfield with Paul Cunningham marking Connolly in the full forward line and Sweeney watching him when he drifted out.

Cunningham didn’t give Connolly an inch, where he normally creates carnage, on the square. It was Cormac Diamond who would be there key scorer, getting two points early on.

Meanwhile McManamon, Coakley and D.A. Donnelly interchanged the duties of two up top, with McManamon even sitting as  sweeper on occasion.

Equally interesting was the fact, and the manner in which Jude’s tried to choke off Vincents’ life-source, the quick, short kick-out, having reasonable success.

All the while Vincent’s initially split the Jude’s kick-out, trusting themselves to defend zonally, keeping Cameron Diamond at the back to mind the house.

While Vincent’s typical overhaul never materialised in the first half, the running of Lorcan Galvin, Shane Carthy and Nathan Mullins was coming to look all the more ominous as they appeared to have the legs on their opposite numbers on a few occasions in the middle third, leading up to the goal. Mullins would cut through the centre to give Vincent’s a two point lead.

However, it wouldn’t signal a Vincent’ onslaught some of us might have expected, as Jude’s continued to play their methodical game and brought themselves back to level scores by half time.

Interestingly, having initially “split” the Jude’s kick-outs, they upped the ante and went man-on-man late in the second half. Jude’s took full advantage of this opportunity, going long over the top, as they love to do, leading to the equalising point, just before the break.

The question I had posed of Jude’s in my preview appeared answered – could we expect Jude’s to score more than ten points? It was 1-4 to 0-7 at the break.

By the second half, Jude’s had also changed tack on the kick-outs, choosing to “split” and defend zonally, keeping affairs scoreless in the opening five minutes of the second half.

In the minutes proceeding Sweeney’s red card, 37th minute Vincent’s substitute, Rúairí Trainor, looked like his introduction could be significant, as his  initial runs looked to link Vincents’ play well.

There were so many questions remaining. Will Jude’s have the legs to maintain their effective game-plan? Will Vincents’ bench swing it their way? Will Copeland be able to continue to keep Connolly under wraps? Is it a false alarm, and will Vincent’s push on when push comes to shove, as we’re so used to seeing?

Even after Sweeney’s red, there looked a glimmer of hope that Jude’s might effectively park the bus, and maybe, just maybe, get a few scores on the counter-attack, as they conceded just two points to one in the following ten minutes.

Then a second red, after Carthy, who had long since looked the most significant attacking player on the filed, was hauled down, when he rounded the keeper, Copeland.

Whether the red was justified, would be insignificant in the end.

With fifteen minutes remaining, with two extra men, Vincent’s did what we assumed they would and ran riot, putting up 3-5 against a noble Jude’s 1-4, with thirteen men, in the final quarter.

It was a disappointing end to what had been such an intriguing battle, but few neutrals will be disappointed to see the clash of what are now Dublin’s two undisputed bug guns, Vincent’s and Ballymun in the final.

*full analysis to follow*

By Stephen O’Meara