St Brigid's day leaves Cross' broken
McHugh’s goal meant Brigid’s scoring for the day was bookended by green flags. Their opening score came from the boot of Dolan as early as the second minute, although his goal owed plenty to a deflection from the outstretched hand of Cross’ full back James Morgan. The Ulster champions got back on terms 10 minutes later when corner-back Paul Hughes made a blistering run off the shoulder of Jamie Clarke before finishing high into the net.
Further points from Clarke, Kyle Carragher and Kyle Brennan left them 1-5 to 1-3 up at the break, with Brigid’s hanging in there primarily through frees. Even the staunchest Brigid’s supporter would have to concede they felt the more benign end of referee Maurice Deegan’s stick throughout.
All the same, the deposed champions will feel they only have themselves to blame for not closing this out. Brennan missed an open goal directly after half-time that would have put them five to the good and it was 20 minutes before they got their next score. By then, Brigid’s had turned a two-point deficit into a two-point lead.
Karol Mannion, Senan Kilbride and Cathal McHugh began controlling the game and Dolan did his best work in this spell. With 10 minutes to go, they were 1-7 to 1-5 up.
But a cracking contest had a couple of loops to throw yet. First Cross’ got their only sustained piece of fluidity going all day, with David McKenna, Clarke and Aaron Kernan reeling off three points in four minutes. It looked for all the world like this was business as usual, the juggernaut rolling ever onwards to yet another Paddy’s Day in Dublin.
McHugh’s goal said otherwise. A minute after it, Carragher saw a straight red for an off-the-ball strike on Shane Curran and although Clarke pulled a point back, it wasn’t enough. Crossmaglen were out.
Feels odd even to type the words.
ST BRIGID’S: S Curran; R Stack, P Domican, N Grehan; G Cunniffe, D Donnelly, G Dolan; G Aherne, I Kilbride; D Dolan, K Mannion, Cathal McHugh (0-2); S Kilbride (0-2, frees), F Dolan (1-3, 0-2 free), R Blake. Subs: E Sheehy for G Dolan (half-time), D Kelleher for Grehan (47 mins), Conor McHugh (1-0) for Cathal McHugh (54 mins), G Dolan for D Dolan (60 mins).
CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS: P Hearty; P Hughes (1-0), P Kernan, P McKeown; A Kernan (0-2, 0-1 free), J Morgan, M Aherne; J Hanratty, D McKenna (0-1); D O’Callaghan, S Kernan, T Kernan; J Clarke (0-3), K Carragher (0-2), O McConville. Subs: K Brennan (0-1) for McConville (21 mins), A Cunningham for P Kernan (half-time), C Cummiskey for Cunningham (60 mins), M Boyce for O’Callaghan (61 mins). Referee: M Deegan (Laois).