More than bragging rights for St Brigid's


DUBLIN SFC FINAL: St Brigid’s 0-10 St Oliver Plunkett’s 0-8JUDGING BY their reaction at the end, it might well have been St Brigid’s who had just won their first Dublin club football title, rather then just denying the opposition theirs, so you can imagine how St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh must have felt.

Indeed, there couldn’t have been a more extreme contrast of emotions. It was always going to be a tense, frosty sort of game – even though it was played in balmy November sunshine – and although the sides appeared inseparable for most of the hour, St Brigid’s hit three big scores in the last three minutes to finally seal the deal.

With that they claimed what was actually their second county title, having previously won in 2003 – but if there’s one thing sweeter than that first victory then it must be winning it back, especially if it comes at the expense of close rivals and neighbours who thus still seek their first crowning moment.

It was hard not to feel a little sympathy for St Oliver Plunkett’s. Beaten finalists in 2008, they came to Parnell Park with an added sense of purpose, that their time had come, and boasting the current and former footballers of the year in Alan and Bernard Brogan, plus Jason Sherlock.

But in a low-scoring game they fell, somewhat ironically, short of scorers – and only four points from play was hardly going to suffice.

Bernard had one decent shot at goal that flew just wide, and Alan had a one-on-one for another goal chance, only for his chance to be brilliantly blocked down by Gavin Kane.

Indeed, it was a far more defensively-orientated game than anyone could have guessed, which suggested that the prize on offer made sure flamboyance gave way to caution. The St Brigid’s comanagers, Mark Byrne and Gerry McEntee (who was also in charge when they last won, in 2003), paid tribute to that defensive spirit, which was also spearheaded by Martin Cahill, Seán Murray and Graham Norton.

In terms of winning it, the man to thank was Lorcan McCarthy, who, within moments of being introduced as a substitute on 43 minutes, kicked his first of two big frees to draw them level for the fifth time, at 0-5 apiece. McCarthy also hit one big point from play in the closing flurry, and surprisingly proved the difference between the teams, at least on the scoreboard.

Yet, the St Brigid’s effort was complete throughout the team – including midfielder Barry Cahill, who was typically prolific and efficient, setting up a number of attacking plays while repeatedly tracking back to help in defence. No prizes for guessing the first question to Dublin’s All-Ireland winner.

“Yes, I mean the feeling six or seven weeks ago, with Dublin, was just incredible. But this is right up there with it. I know it’s a cliché, but to win with your friends and your club mates is special. I’ve been playing with some of these lads since I was six, or seven, and have a brother and a cousin on the team,” said Cahill.

“And it’s always that small bit sweeter the fact that we beat our local rivals. It was a total team effort from the club, all the way up, and they got their just reward today. It was an incredible game to win. A tough game, very similar to our semi-final against them last year, which was a big dog-fight, and low-scoring too.

“But, in fairness, we’ve been finishing strong in our last few games in recent weeks, and knew if the game was still in the melting pot with 15 minutes to go we could go on and do it. It was a real panel effort, especially at the back, because some of the blocks that were going in there was unbelievable. The lads have trained very hard this year.

“Even when some of us were away with Dublin, they were playing friendlies up and down the country, against Crossmaglen, Portlaoise, and putting in good performances. So I think we’d a lot of good momentum coming into this game, and the four tough matches in the last few weeks really stood to us.”

Further good news for Cahill and co is that Pat Gilroy is now expected to be reappointed Dublin manager, most likely for another two years, at this evening’s Dublin County Board meeting in Parnell Park. But for the Brogan brothers it puts a bit of a dampener on an otherwise spectacular year, and although Alan chipped in with three points from play, they’ll know themselves they needed to have a better day for St Oliver Plunkett’s to win.

“We had our golden period of possession for about 10 or 15 minutes in the second half,” said their manager Mick Galvin, “but it didn’t materialise on the scoreboard and you’re always vulnerable then. No complaints . . .

“Bernard didn’t have one of his better games in front of goals, but he kept trying. But, listen, congratulations to them. It’s tough, but that’s football.”

ST BRIGID’S: S Supple; A Daly, M Cahill, G Norton; C Moran, S Murray, G Kane; B Cahill, J O’Loughlin; G McIntyre (0-1), P Andrews (0-1), M Cahill (0-1, a free); K Kilmurray; K Darcy (0-3, two frees), P Ryan. Subs: L McCarthy (0-3, two frees) for Ryan (43 mins), C Mullins for McIntyre (45), O McCann (0-1) for Kilmurray (54), C Doyle for M Cahill (60).

ST OLIVER PLUNKETT’S/EOGHAN RUADH:Philip Brogan; R O’Connor, S Lyons, M Brides; C Evans, Paul Brogan, S Dunne; R McConnell (0-1, 45), C Walsh; D Matthews, G Smith (0-1, free), A Brogan (0-3); A Moyles, B Brogan (0-3, 2 frees), J Sherlock. Subs: C Dunleavy for Dunne (ht); A Darcy for Matthews (48), C Daly for Smith (58).

Referee: G McCormack (Naomh Barrog).

St Brigid’s will meet Meath’s Summerhill next weekend, with the winner playing Wexford’s Horeswood. Portlaoise meet St Patrick’s of Louth, with the winning team meeting the winners of next Sunday’s Wicklow final between Rathnew and St Mary’s. Also next weekend, Kildare’s Athy and Offaly’s Edenderry clash with the winner playing Old Leighlin of Carlow in the quarter-final. Already at the quarter-final stage are Westmeath’s Garrycastle and Longford Slashers. All dates and venues to be announced.