Local hero stars in Croker
BANTEER native Damien Kelleher proved a key cog to Roscommon side St Brigid's writing their name into the history books on collecting the All Ireland Club Senior Football Championship title in Croke Park on St. Patrick's Day.
From a marvellous tussle with Dublin oufit Ballymum Kickhams, Damien and his colleagues erased many years of hurt for Roscommon sides, bringing an end to a miserable record in club finals and on doing so, they become the first Roscommon club to collect the famous Andy Merrigan Cup.
And in a fairytale finish that looked destined for extra time, Brigid's piled the pressure late on. Kelleher played a key role in the all important move, working the ball up by the sideline, it transferred across to veteran Frankie Dolan who delivered the 61st min winning score.
Damien comes from a family steeped in sporting achievement, his gaelic skills nurtured in Banteer / Lyre GAA Clubs. In 2005, Damien joined Kiltoom based St Brigids, having been posted to Costume Barracks in Athlone as a commissioned officer in The Irish Defence Forces. To date, Damien has amassed five Roscommon senior football championship medals, four Connacht senior football championships, one Roscommon Under 21 county championship medal and now a coveted All Ireland club senior football medal.
As a member of the Banteer / Lyre GAA clubs, Damien won Duhallow football Championships in all grades from Under 10 to under 16 levels, winning an Under 14 county Feile B in 1997 and also represented Duhallow at minor level.
Family and friends braved the inclement weather to make Croker on St. Patrick's Day, a Corkman central to an emerging side, St.Bridgid's adding their name to the roll of honour.