Late goal sees St Brigid's break Cross
St Brigid's 2-7 Crossmaglen 1-9:Conor McHugh scored the decisive goal with his first touch as St Brigid’s of Roscommon found a way past Armagh’s Crossmaglen and into the All-Ireland club SFC final with a one-point win in Mullingar.
St Brigid's also had a flurry of points at the start of the second half to thank for a victory that ended Cross's pursuit of a third title in a row and set them on course for a St Patrick's Day final meeting with Ballymun Kickhams, their fellow outsiders having beaten Dr Crokes in the late throw-in at Semple Stadium.
The Roscommon men began the first half brightly, racing into a four-point lead, thanks largely to a goal from Frankie Dolan. However, Paul Hughes hit the net for Cross in the 12th minute, while Aaron Kernan and Jamie Clarke soon found their range to help drive the Armagh side into a two-point lead at the break."We missed a few frees at the end of the first half but I said to them at half-time that you have to leave that kind of thing behind you," said St Brigid's manager Kevin McStay. "Yeah, we would have liked to have been level or a point ahead at that stage but we weren't and we needed to get on with it. Frankie Dolan is the most accurate player I've ever trained but he was feeling the pressure of trying to beat Cross the same as I was and the same as we all were. We'd like to be a bit sharper but they kept at it and they never stopped."
In fact, they bounced back from those misses immediately, scoring four without reply to reverse the deficit after the restart, while Cross had to wait mearly 20 minutes for their first score of the second half from David McKenna.
Senan Kilbride opened the scoring and Brigid's added three more, with Dolan again on target, along with Cathal McHugh.
Again Cross came from behind, however, and again they reclaimed the lead - this time through scores from McKenna, Clarke and Kernan - but the momentum shifted dramatically when Dolan's scuffed effort found it's way to Conor McHugh, called off the bench in the 54th minute, in front of an open goal.
He gratefully tapped into give Brigid's a two-point lead and Cross could only manage a point through Clarke in response. An off-the-ball incident added insult to injury for the Ulstermen when Kyle Carragher was dismissed for an infringement that left opposing goalkeeper Shane Curran stretched out on the turf.
"It's a tough pill to swallow," said Crossmaglen goalkeeper Paul Hearty. "You have to give credit to Brigid's, they never gave up and got their scores when they needed them. But we never took our scores and we weren't as efficient as we'd like to be. They came with a gameplan, they set themselves well and tried to nullify us. They did that to an extent. I suppose we had chances but we just didn't take advantage of them. It's hard to take and it will take a while for it to sink in. It's been a while since we lost in the championship and we were looking forward to today, but it just wasn't to be."
CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS:P Hearty; P Hughes (1-0), P Kernan (A Cunningham (h/t) C Cummiskey 60mins), P McKeown; A Kernan (0-2, 1f), J Morgan, M Aherne; J Hanratty, D McKenna (0-1); D O’Callaghan (M Boyce 61mins), S Kernan, T Kernan; J Clarke (0-3), K Carragher (0-2), O McConville (K Brennan (0-1) 21mins)
ST BRIGID’S: S Curran;R Stack, P Domican, N Grehan (D Kelleher 47mins); G Cunniffe, D Donnelly, G Dolan (E Sheehy h/t); G Aherne, I Kilbride; D Dolan (G Dolan 60mins), K Mannion, C McHugh (0-2) (C McHugh (1-0) 54mins); S Kilbride (0-2f), F Dolan (1-3, 2f), R Blake
Red Card:Carragher (Crossmaglen, 57)
Referee: M Deegan (Laois)