'We just beat one of the best teams in history'
"We've just beaten one of the best club teams in the history of the GAA," beamed St Brigid's goalkeeper Shane Curran after his side's one-point victory over reigning champions Crossmaglen Rangers in a thrilling All-Ireland club semi-final.
"But it's no good unless we go on and win the All-Ireland," he added.
Twice before, the Roscommon club had been at the losing end of tussles with the celebrated Armagh champions at the business end of the competition – but this time round history didn't repeat itself as Curran's team recorded a memorable 2-7 to 1-9 win.
From the throw-in they matched Crossmaglen in the physical stakes and took the opportunities that came their way. Brigid's inched ahead over and over again but never shook off their opponents.
Conor McHugh got the game's crucial score, a goal with just three minutes left.
In the dying minutes a depleted Crossmaglen came at the Connacht champions hard but time wasn't on their side and when the final whistle blew they were still a point behind.
Brigid's took the first final spot of the day and just over two hours later they were joined by Ballymun Kickhams.
The Leinster champions overcame a much-fancied Dr Crokes side by four points – 1-10 to 0-9 – at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
The Dublin outfit gave an intense display in the first half leaving very little room for error around the park. They closed down Dr Crokes dangerman Colm Cooper, keeping him almost totally out of the game for the opening 30 minutes.
The second half told a different story and with 13 minutes to go there was only a goal between the sides.
However, the fitness of Ballymun was superior and they were able to keep the Munster champions from doing too much damage.
In the hurling semi-final replay at Clones, St Thomas (Galway) made no mistake the second time with an emphatic eight-point victory over Loughgiel Shamrocks. They will face Offaly's Kilcormac-Killoughey in the final.
Yesterday's results mean that all four finalists on St Patrick's Day will be bidding to win an All-Ireland club title for the first time.
The Galway team were comprehensive winners and again the Burke family shone, especially Bernard, who scored four points from play.
"Bernard had a super game today," said his manager and uncle John Burke. "He works, works, works. We keep driving him on; he is a bit of a character."