Sport Gaelic Football

Tuesday 28 February 2017

Brigid's expose widening gap

Andrews' star turn in rout highlights gulf of resources between Dubs and Royals

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

FOR the most part, Gerry McEntee will have been thrilled that St Brigid's won so comfortably in Navan yesterday.

But he will surely have been alarmed at the size of the gulf that appears to have developed between Dublin and Meath club football, which will inevitably manifest itself at inter-county level even more than it has done over the last decade, with the one obvious exception of the 2010 Leinster semi-final.

Summerhill were honest and committed; they toiled bravely and threw themselves at everything. Yet they lost this fixture by 10 points to a team that has been on the road now for five successive weekends.

If ever the Dublin champions were going to be vulnerable, it was the weekend after they had won only their second county title, having taken out Na Fianna, Kilmacud Crokes, Ballymun Kickhams and St Oliver Plunkett's Eoghan Ruadh to reach the summit again.

But once Ken Kilmurray and Barry Cahill engineered goals for the Blanchardstown outfit early in the second quarter, the result became a formality.

The essential differences between the teams were athleticism and power -- the ability to take on opponents and go by them.

St Brigid's midfelders Cahill and John O'Loughlin powered through gaps, while Paddy Andrews toyed with any opponent in his vicinity. He made it look far too easy.

Andrews' performance perhaps tells most about the widening gap that exists between the counties. After this year's National League, he was deemed surplus to requirements by Dublin.

It says something about the Dubs' resources that they can afford to do without him.

Five points, four from play, numerous assists -- including his rounding of Willie Ryan, a corner-back who has attracted the attentions of the Meath management, to tee up Cahill's goal -- made him Brigid's central figure.

Operating from corner-forward but dropping deep enough to create when he had too, he seemed to be on a mission.

"Paddy is a very talented footballer and we'd love to see him get back on the Dublin panel," said joint St Brigid's manager McEntee afterwards.

There was an element of good fortune about both St Brigid's goals. They were just beginning to assert control after a bright start for the home side when Mark Cahill put in Kilmurray and his shot, which looked to be heading just over the crossbar, took a deflection off a Summerhill hand and spun past goalkeeper Tony McDonnell on 17 minutes for a 1-4 to 0-3 lead.

strength

Three minutes later Andrews showed strength and patience to set up Cahill with a fisted pass across the goalmouth for a second goal. Cahill appeared to be in the square, however, before the ball had entered the flight space. It was a marginal call but it could have gone Summerhill's way.

Andrews set up Alan Daly for a point soon afterwards and the gap was up to eight, 2-5 to 0-3.

With the influential Adrian Kenny withdrawing with injury (he reappeared in the second half) Summerhill struggled. By the break it was 2-7 to 0-4, Andrews rounding the half off with a great point after making a fine catch under pressure.

Inevitably, Brigid's could not maintain such a pace and immediately after the break Summerhill got to work on closing the gap with points from substitute Bobby Lyons, Paul Rispin and Michael Byrne from a free.

But the teasing prospect of a stirring comeback were quickly extinguished when Philly Ryan landed a fourth point on 38 minutes and by the 52nd minute the lead was out to 11 points, 2-13 to 0-8, when Andrews delivered another fine solo effort.

To their credit Summerhill kept pressing. Brian Ennis had the ball in the net but referee Fergal Kelly had already blown for a free in, while Lyons flashed a shot narrowly wide at the end.

But with Sean Murray negating the aerial threat of Stephen Kennedy and Graeme Norton and Martin Cahill showing their experience -- four of the 2003 winning side are still involved -- St Brigid's were always comfortable.

McEntee acknowledged an element of fatigue that is the downside of such momentum.

"It showed a couple of times, I think the lads were tired and Summerhill came through the middle -- they could have had a couple of goals," he said.

"It isn't hard to keep going because you have momentum and you are winning. We're doing very little training."

Summerhill manager Declan McCabe admitted athleticism was a significant difference. "When the ball broke there was one or two of them coming all the time. They were overlapping. It was very difficult for our lads to stick with that pace," he said.

Scorers -- St Brigid's: P Ryan, P Andrews (1f) 0-5 each, K Kilmurray, B Cahill 1-0 each, M Cahill 0-2 (2f), A Daly, K Darcy, L McCarthy 0-1 each. Summerhill: B Ennis 0-4 (4f), S Dalton 0-2, C Gillespie, P Rispin, A Kenny, M Byrne (f), A Kenny 0-1 each.

St Brigid's -- S Supple; S Murray, G Norton, C Freeman; A Daly, Martin Cahill, G Kane; B Cahill, J O'Loughlin; C Mullins, Mark Cahill, K Kilmurray; P Andrews, K Darcy, P Ryan. Subs: L McCarthy for Kilmurray (41), O McCann for Mark Cahill (42), C Kilmurray for Darcy (56), D Plunkett for Daly (57), J Kelly for Norton (58).

Summerhill -- T McDonnell; D Dalton, C Young, W Ryan; S Husband, R Hatton, M Gorman; M Byrne, B Ennis; D Larkin, C Gillespie, P Rispin; A Kenny, S Dalton, S Kennedy. Subs: B Lyons for Kenny (11), A Kenny for Rispin (41), G Rispin for Gorman (42), R Tallon for Husband (49), P Comey for Kennedy (52).

Ref -- F Kelly (Longford).

Irish Independent

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