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St Brigid's reign supreme in Connacht again

For the fourth time in the last seven years, the Roscommon club were crowned champions in the western province.

St Brigid's fans celebrate at McHale Park yesterday.
St Brigid's fans celebrate at McHale Park yesterday.
Image: INPHO/Mike Shaughnessy

St Brigid’s 1-12
Ballaghaderreen 0-6

It was a familiar tale in Connacht yesterday as St Brigid’s once again grasped silverware in a provincial final in Castlebar.

For the third successive season, and the fourth time in the last seven years, the Roscommon club were crowned senior football champions with their latest success arriving courtesy of a nine-point win over Mayo outfit Ballaghaderreen.

Indeed it transpired to be the most comfortable of St Brigid’s four Connacht titles. In 2006 it took a last-gasp goal from Karol Mannion for them to defeat Corofin, in 2010 they need an injury-time goal by Cathal McHugh to secure extra-time before they beat Killererin and last year they just had a single point to spare over Corofin.

But on this occasion they were far too strong for a Ballaghaderreen team who had to line out without key forwards like the injured Andy Moran and could only muster a single point in the second-half.

With attacking lynchpins Senan Kilbride and Frankie Dolan firing 1-8 between them, to follow up on the 0-11 they kicked in the semi-final win over Salthill-Knocknacarra, St Brigid’s were in control. It was a special success for that duo along with Niall Grehan and Karol Mannion as they are the only four players to have started in St Brigid’s four Connacht triumphs.

And it was also a notable achievement for the club’s charismatic 41 year-old goalkeeper Shane Curran, as the veteran who was coaxed out of retirement this year managed to win his first Connacht medal on the field of play.

St Brigid’s goalkeeper Shane Curran and manager Kevin McStay after the game.
Pic: INPHO/Mike Shaughnessy

The first-half of the match was tightly contested with St Brigid’s just edging ahead by 0-6 to 0-5 at the interval. The winners had lead by 0-6 to 0-3 but were pegged back by a fine scores by Barry Regan and David Drake for Ballaghderreen to leave just the minimum between the teams at the break.

However St Brigid’s emerged in the second-half in a confident fashion and began to dominate proceedings. The tone was set by quick early points by Darren Dolan and Ronan Stack with St Brigid’s then popping over more points from there. The defining moment arrived in the 46th minute when Senan Kilbride gathered possession and blasted the ball to the net for the only goal of the game.

The match petered to its inevitable conclusion from there as St Brigid’s cruised to victory. They emulated the achievement of Clann na nGael by securing a three-in-a-row but will now hope t0 claim an All-Ireland title, an achievement that eluded their Roscommon neighbours during the 1980′s.

They turn their attentions to next Sunday’s Ulster club final with the winners of that battle between Crossmaglen Rangers and Kilcoo set to face St Brigid’s in next February’s All-Ireland semi-final.

St Brigid’s have plenty history with Crossmaglen Rangers after losing out to them in the 2007 All-Ireland semi-final and 2010 All-Ireland final.

St Brigid’s Gearoid Cunniffe and Darragh Donnelly lift the Shane McGettigan cup. Pic: INPHO/Mike Shaughnessy

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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