Redemption close to completion
Roscommon side aim to make up for past disappointments in finals
St Brigid’s will bring to Croke Park for Sunday’s AIB All-Ireland club football final are personified in Senan Kilbride, their veteran forward who admits it’s “about getting the chance to redeem yourself”.
Kilbride could be speaking for the entire county: no Roscommon club has ever won this title, and instead lost in all seven previous final appearances – including St Brigid’s themselves, just two years ago, when taken down by the might of Crossmaglen Rangers.
Now, the redemption Kilbride refers to is close to completion. Beating Crossmaglen in last month’s semi-final, against almost all the odds, helped make up for what happened in Croke Park in 2011, and sets up the final step, with only Ballymun Kickhams standing in the way of their ultimate moment of glory.
“Well at this stage of the campaign, if you’re not in the right place, there’s nothing more you can do,” says Kilbride, who earlier this month was named provincial club footballer of the year for his role in helping St Brigid’s win a third successive Connacht title. “It’s just being about trying to tailor the training again, towards the final. But preparation has gone well, with a couple more weeks of hard work behind us, since the semi-final.”
This mix of motivation in fact goes back to 2006, when Kilbride won his first Roscommon title with St Brigid’s, who then went on to capture the provincial title too. Yet any assumption greater honours would soon follow didn’t prove true, and even in 2011, when they took down Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland semi-final, the chance of All-Ireland success was shot down by Crossmaglen.
“We got close,” says Kilbride (2-11 to 1-11), “but whenever we got close on the scoreboard, they laid down a few more points. But they were the better team on the day. I think we were quite naive, actually. But we’ve come a long way since then, with a stronger squad of players, and tactically as well.”
Kilbride, it seems, has more regrets about what happened last year, when St Brigid’s once again came out of Connacht, only to fall to near neighbours and Leinster champions Garrycastle, in the semi-final: “I suppose the first time you make Croke Park you’d be happy enough. Then last year we felt we were a better team, but then just didn’t perform on the day, against Garrycastle, and that’s always the more disappointing. They out-played us, but we didn’t show any desire, or do ourselves justice.