It’s late on a Sunday night, the dust has settled on the weekend’s action, and dreams of Boyle reaching their first county final in over 90 years, or of Liam Kearns crowning his first season in Roscommon club football with an appearance on the big day, will have to be shelved. It’s the southern duo of Pádraig Pearses and St. Brigid’s who will contest this year’s Fahey Cup final, while Oran and St. Dominic’s will contest the intermediate decider.
But aside from those basics, what are the other big takeaways from this dramatic weekend of action?
Here we go, with the Sunday night takeaway!
Pearses transformed due to victory
There was a time when if you said that Pearses played Clann in a big knockout game, and that one team kicked the last three points of the game to win by one, there would be little doubt in most people’s minds as to who would have come out on top. Everything changed last October however when the men from Woodmount got their hands on the Fahey Cup for the first time, and that showed in the Hyde earlier today. Clann panicked with a number of late possessions, taking some very poor options on the ball, but when Pearses got their chance to snatch the win, Lorcan Daly wasn’t found wanting.
St. Brigid’s maturing faster than anyone could have imagined
It seems like every time they go out into battle, this very young St. Brigid’s group (seven of today’s starting team played U-20 football last December) goes further than we ever thought possible. More mature figures like James Martin, Peter Domican, Eoin and Darragh Sheehy are all more than playing their part, but when a starting forward line with an average age of 21 tears apart a seasoned, physically powerful defence, it’s clear that these young players are much further on in their development than could have been imagined.
Two key moments in the first half – Ruaidhrí Fallon’s devastating hit on Tadhg McKenna and Paul McGrath’s perfectly timed tackle to dispossess Sean Purcell as he went through on goal – proved that this young group is well able to mix it in the trenches too.
Oran will never get a better chance
After losing county finals in 2016, 2018 and 2019, all after replays, there must have been some doubts in Oran over the winter if they were ever to have their day in the sun. They’ll have a job of work done if they do beat St. Dominic’s on Saturday week, but the merciless manner in which they brushed aside St. Aidan’s yesterday showed that they are mentally in a very good place.
St. Dominic’s haven’t got anything like the same experience in their ranks, they’re new to county finals and they have a huge injury concern surrounding star midfielder Keith Doyle, so while they won’t go down easily, Oran can’t have asked for a better chance.
The downside of depending on your stars
It’s easy to look at a team like St. Faithleach’s and to say that players like the Murtagh brothers will rip apart intermediate defences, but no matter how brightly your stars might shine, they need plenty of scoring support from the rest of the team. Diarmuid Murtagh was forced off with an early injury, Ciaráin Murtagh did his best and scored eight points, but the rest of the team registered two points between them as they were outplayed in several sectors of the field. St. Faithleach’s also lacked the patience and composure needed as indiscipline cost them dearly in the second half of the contest.
Clann fail to build on 2019 promise as Shannon Gaels secure county final spot
Their failure to snatch victory in last year’s drawn county final against Kilbride in Kiltoom will surely have haunted Clann na nGael over the winter, but given the age profile of the Johnstown squad, they would have felt that they could build on that platform and give Kilbride plenty of problems this year. If any clubs was to deny Ollie Lennon’s side their much-craved five-in-a-row, Clann looked like the side with the firepower to do so.
That all fell apart earlier this morning in Croghan as a second half penalty from Áine O’Dowd was the key score for Shannon Gaels in their 1-8 to 0-7 county semi-final win. Shannon Gaels have built up a good head of steam over the past couple of months and they’ll rightly feel that they’ve earned their place in the county decider, but it remains to be seen if their lack of experience will haunt them in a fortnight’s time.