The winning formula: here's where the Dublin Football Final was won and lost

Following St Brigid’s success against Plunkett’s yesterday, Emmet Ryan looks at some of the reasons behind their victory.

St Brigid’s Shane Supple lifts the trophy (INPHO/Ryan Byrne).

Reproduced with permission from Action 81

St Brigid’s claimed their second Dublin Senior Football championship title with a 0-10 to 0-8 win over St Oliver Plunkett’s Eoghan Ruadh. Emmet Ryan breaks down the key factors in deciding the outcome.

Easy for defenders in first half

With this the fourth game is an many weeks for the combatants, it came as little surprise that neither set of forwards set the world alight early. Brigid’s had more of the ball going forward but wouldn’t commit to breaking down the Plunkett’s defence. Instead they opted for a string of long range efforts, registering four wides before Ken Darcy opened the scoring with a free.

Place balls were the order of the day at both ends with Plunkett’s struggling to break down the Brigid’s defence. With 5 of the first 6 points coming from frees, it took until the 27th minute for either set of forwards to really open up proceedings. Ross McConnell, who played a more attacking role than in the semi final, delivered a perfect cross field ball over 45 metres to Alan Brogan on the 21. Brogan looked to turn and go for goal before opting to fist over.

Brogan wins battle for scores but loses war to Murray

Being marked by Sean Murray must prove most frustrating when he has a good day, for a forward can rack up a reasonable tally and still come out clearly on the losing end. Bernard Brogan finished with 0-4 but was unquestionably bested by the Brigid’s man. Time and again he would try to go through or around Murray and always his efforts ended in failure. Murray’s focus was clinical; anything was better than Brogan getting one-on-one with Shane Supple and therefore any alternative result would do. He even gave up a free in an obviously scoreable position at one stage and it was clearly the correct call.

Positioning certainly aided Murray as he was able to spend far more time outside the 21 than in the semi-final as Bernard Brogan was playing in the spike of the three man front line. Plunkett’s essentially granted Murray his comfort zone and the defender made the most of it.

No plan B for Plunkett’s

Brogan’s problems were emblematic of the struggles of the Plunkett’s attack. They had chances but nowhere near enough to punish a stingy Brigid’s defence. Jason Sherlock was a non-factor for the bulk of the contest but when he finally created a quality chance, Plunkett’s came up short. Sherlock began a move in the Brigid’s 21 which gave Alan Brogan a one-on-one chance with Supple. At least it looked that way until Gavin Kane got down to block his effort before the ball had a chance to leave the Footballer of the Year’s boot.

Rather than rue chances missed, Plunkett’s should lament the chances they never created. With Murray locking down Bernard Brogan, the remainder of a deeply talented attack failed to generate alternative routes of attack. The very same thing happened to Kilmacud Crokes in the last 16.

Gavin Keane escapes from Paul Brogan (INPHO/Ryan Byrne).

Kilmurray and Andrews provide a creative outlet

Having looked devoid of invention in the opening period, Brigid’s forwards looked a lot brighter after the break. Much of this was down to the excellent performance of Ken Kilmurray. A former frontman in the League of Ireland with UCD, Kilmurray’s role was far more diverse than any he ever played out in Belfield.

Though primarily a forward, Kilmurray was clearly assigned the task of tracking back more than any other attacker to aid the defence. Despite this end-to-end role, he still proved effective in creating scoring chances. On 32 minutes he turned just outside the 21 on the right flank and kick-passed straight across to Philly Ryan, who despite mishandling won a free in front of the posts. That effort was missed but the change in focus was clear. Kilmurray, along with Paddy Andrews, ensured Brigid’s looked to develop better scoring chances rather than rushing their attacks.

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Substitutions swing the day

For all their better play, Brigid’s weren’t getting the scores due to errors in the front line. Ryan was particularly at fault and the decision to replace him with Lorcan McCarthy would prove the winning of the game. McCarthy, along with fellow sub Odhran McCann, enabled Brigid’s to press more going forward and create time for betting scoring chances.

Additionally, McCarthy proved a weapon with long range free. He converted efforts of 47 and 48 metres (based on my rather good vantage point) to push Brigid’s out in front in the closing stages. In an efficient 16 minutes on the field plus added time, McCarthy tallied 0-3 and aided Kilmurray in setting up a score for Andrews.

Barry Cahill and Paul Brogan fight for possession (INPHO/Ryan Byrne).

The verdict

St Brigid’s got the game they wanted and won because of it. A controlled defensive battle was always going to favour Brigid’s and they delivered in style. This final was not a classic but any day your backs hold an attack containing the two most recent Footballers of the year and Jason Sherlock to 0-8 you know it’s been a good day at the office.

The over-riding theme of this final was the lack of creativity in attack. With two line-ups loaded with talent, we saw plenty of effective defensive play but there was a dearth of variety in attack. The short window in which the business end of the championship was played certainly played a role in that and should be of concern for Brigid’s ahead of their foray into the Leinster championship next Sunday.

The defensive strength that propelled them to their first county title since 2003 must come to the fore again next weekend. Summerhill, having had a few weeks off since winning the Meath title, enter next weekend fresh whereas the Dublin champions will have little if any time to make adjustments. That should make for a rather different challenge to that which Brigid’s overcame today.

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Emmet Ryan

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