Hodson Bay Hotel Group Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
Ian Cooney at Strokestown
The North Roscommon rebellion hasn’t lasted long. Just as Pearses ousted Western Gaels in Sunday’s first semi-final, Brigid’s took care of Boyle with relative ease just a couple of hours later to set up an all-south county final in Kiltoom on October 23rd.
For three-quarters of this match, Brigid’s were irresistible — an unstoppable juggernaut that steamrolled the opposition. Boyle had been the story of the championship but Brigid’s reminded the new kids on the block that they’ve a long road to travel.
After Jack McDonnell’s 44th minute goal, Brigid’s were 4-8 to 0-3 ahead. It was men against boys as Brigid’s rediscovered the intensity and focus that have made them the standard-bearers of Roscommon club football for the best part of a decade.
That Boyle only ended up losing by eight points was down to a combination of Brigid’s emptying their bench and the North Roscommon side fittingly deciding to leave centre stage with their heads held high.
For such a young player, Cian McKeon showed remarkable maturity to carry the fight to the Brigid’s defence. Seán Purcell was immense too, reminding everyone why he has been one of the players of the championship.
But Brigid’s were just too good for the bulk of this match. The reality that they eased off the gas will give Frankie Dolan and Eddie Lohan enough ammunition to ensure that no one loses the run of themselves ahead of the county final.
They may have been playing against the wind during the opening 30 minutes, but Brigid’s did as they pleased. They brought a physicality to proceedings that Boyle hadn’t encountered in the group stages or during their facile victory against St. Faithleach’s in the quarter-final.
Ian Kilbride led the defence magnificently. As usual, his brother Senan was the focal point in attack. Around the full-forward, Cathal McHugh, Brian Stack and Conor Murray buzzed with intent.
McHugh opened the scoring in the third minute. When Enda Smith worked his way in from the right wing to land the equaliser four minutes later, that’s as good as it got for Mick Jordan’s charges.
Ian Kilbride raided forward to give Brigid’s the lead, a dipping effort that could just as easily have ended up in the back of the net. McHugh added to his tally with a brilliant point from the right in the tenth minute. Brian Stack made headway before bisecting the posts in the 13th minute.
The floodgates were threatening to open and, sure enough, Brigid’s first goal arrived in the 20th minute. A delicious diagonal ball from Karol Mannion towards Brian Stack saw the Roscommon U-21 player link up with Senan Kilbride before finishing soccer-style to the net.
Seán Purcell kicked a much-needed score for Boyle in the 26th minute. Darren O’Connor had a sniff of a goal chance but his effort was kept out by Shane Mannion. Further points from Senan Kilbride and Garvan Dolan left Brigid’s in command at the break, leading by 1-6 to 0-2.
Twenty seconds after the restart, it was very much a case of “game over”. Brian Stack’s delivery from the left wing was gathered by Senan Kilbride who held off Killian Cox and sent an unstoppable shot to the roof of the net.
Moments later, Kilbride gathered McHugh’s effort but was held back by Michael Hanmore. Karol Mannion’s resultant penalty cannoned back off the crossbar but the goal did arrive when Stack squared possession for Mannion to palm the ball into an empty net.
Brigid’s were ravenous for scores, and two beauties from Eoin Sheehy and Darren Dolan stretched the gap to 15 points. Cian McKeon’s 41st minute free stopped the rot momentarily but a fourth Brigid’s goal was on the horizon.
Donie Smith was dispossessed by Garvan Dolan. In an instant, Brigid’s moved possession with precision. Darragh Donnelly and Senan Kilbride were centrally involved before Jack McDonnell placed the ball under Tadhg Lowe.
Credit to Boyle though. They didn’t go down without a fight. Purcell set up McKeon for an instant response. Dylan East tagged on a point before a bout of ping-pong in the Brigid’s defence allowed Roch Hamore fist Boyle’s second goal.
While Brigid’s added further points from substitutes Davy Cunniffe and Jack Cunningham, Boyle kept plugging away with scores from McKeon, O’Connor, Purcell and Tadhg McKenna.
It took the raw edge off the scoreboard but Brigid’s were already thinking about the final and a reunion with Shane Curran.
ST. BRIGID’S: S. Mannion; R. Stack, N. McInerney, D. Donnelly; D. Sheehy, I. Kilbride (0-1), E. Sheehy (0-1); M. Daly, G. Dolan (0-1); B. Stack (1-1), D. Dolan (0-1), C. Murray; K. Mannion (1-0), S. Kilbride (1-1), C. McHugh (0-2). Subs used: J. McDonnell (1-0) for McHugh (40 mins), F. Dolan for D. Dolan (48 mins), J. Murray for E. Sheehy (52 mins), N. Grehan for Murray (52 mins), D. Cunniffe (0-1) for B. Stack (53 mins), J. Cunningham (0-1) for G. Dolan (57 mins).
BOYLE: T. Lowe; M. Hanmore, Killian Cox, C. Beirne; D. East (0-1), S. Purcell (0-2), T. McKenna (0-1); D. Callaghan, R. Hanmore (1-0); Kieran Cox, E. Smith (0-1), G. Gilmartin; J. Suffin, D. O’Connor (0-1), C. McKeon (1-2, one free). Subs used: D. Smith for Kieran Cox (27 mins), M. O’Donohoe for Suffin (42 mins), M. Goldrick for Gilmartin (50 mins), M. O’Connor for East (53 mins).
Wides: St. Brigid’s – 6; Boyle – 5.
Yellow Cards: St. Brigid’s – D. Dolan (24 mins), S. Kilbride (40 mins), McInerney (37 mins), G. Dolan (55 mins); Boyle – Killian Cox (30 mins), McKeon (54 mins), O’Connor (55 mins).
Black Cards: St. Brigid’s – none; Boyle – none.
Red Cards: St. Brigid’s – none; Boyle – none.
Referee: G. Carmody.
Player of the Match: Senan Kilbride (St. Brigid’s). A toss of a coin between Senan Kilbride and his brother Ian. The latter was at his brilliant best as target man in Brigid’s attack. A superb first-half point was followed by a brilliant goal seconds after the restart. He also won a penalty as Boyle struggled to handle him.
Ian controlled the game from the centre-back, using his physical strength to punch holes in Boyle’s defence. Shane Mannion, Ronan Stack, Eoin Sheehy, Garvan Dolan, Mark Daly, Brian Stack and Cathal McHugh were also sharp for the winners.
Cian McKeon and Seán Purcell displayed tumults of courage for Boyle when it would have been easier to throw in the towel.