Brigid's prosper in late drama
St Brigid's 2-14 Pearses 2-7
Rival managers and former All-Ireland club team-mates Frankie Dolan and Shane 'Cake' Curran hailed their teams for their part in a rip-roaring Roscommon county final at Kiltoom yesterday - but only Dolan had a smile on his face.
His first year as a co-manager of the Roscommon kingpins in tandem with Eddie McHugh yielded a return to the top for St Brigid's after a full-blooded battle with Curran's Pádraig Pearses side.
As the supporters of both sides milled around in the aftermath of a pulsating second half, Dolan and Curran were put on the spot to put some words on an emotional climax to the match.
The blood of both men and many in the attendance had reached boiling point at times during the contest, especially late in the game when a couple of old-fashioned schemozzles broke out.
Dolan, a 58th-minute substitute for Brigid's corner-forward Cathal McHugh, was almost immediately caught up in one outbreak which resulted in dismissal for Brigid's midfielder Garvan Dolan, brother of Frankie, and Pearses number eight, Niall Daly, on a second yellow card.
The stakes were high as Pearses, seeking their first ever senior title, and Brigid's, chasing their 15th, were level at 2-7 to 0-13 respectively, with six minutes left for play.
But a 57th-minute goal by man of the match Ian Kilbride for Brigid's, followed quickly by another goal, this time by full-back Darragh Donnelly, put Brigid's in the clear.
Substitute David Cunniffe slotted over the final score of the game just before the final whistle blew after four minutes of added time.
Joy for Frankie and Brigid's; heartbreak for his 2013 All-Ireland club winning team-mate Curran.
"I'm delighted for the players. We were very low last year when we were on the same pitch and were deservedly beaten by Clan na Gael. We're just delighted to be back here after all the effort we put in. You hear people talking about effort which is the usual thing said after matches, but what they put in has been incredible all year," said Dolan.
Curran's renowned passion was evident and audible even before the game when his fervent exhortations to his team could be heard from the Pearses dressing room.
He also let referee Paul Daly know his feelings in no uncertain terms as the teams left the field at half-time, but with the match over, he had to acknowledge that the better side won.
"You'd be gutted for them. They put so much into it. They were level I think with three or four minutes to go and we just couldn't get that nose in front.
"Brigid's showed their quality, turned over a few balls in the middle of the park and that was it.
"I thought my players were outstanding. Games change on certain instances and unfortunately they had that little bit of extra quality in the end.
"Their goals came from their full-back and their centre half-back. We marshalled their forward line pretty well. We did say beforehand if we could keep them to 12 or 13 points we'd win the match, but we couldn't keep out the goals.
"We conceded two goals all year, and we conceded two in the final, and that was ultimately the difference," said Curran.
The near-gale force wind influenced the play in both halves. St Brigid's had it at their backs in the first half, and put Pearses under long spells of pressure.
Eight points gained, but eight wides in that opening 30 minutes suggested they would not have everything their own way in the second period, an observation enhanced by Pearses' late rally before the interval.
The men in red and white had to wait until the 16th minute before canny corner-forward Sean Fahy raised their first white flag from a free.
Pearses had around half a dozen meaningful attacks in that first half but another point from a free by Fahy, and a 25th-minute goal by the same player changed their mood going into the break.
Fahy ended up palming the ball to the Brigid's net after brothers Ronan and Niall Daly worked a neat move to open up the Kiltoom club's defence.
Just three points behind was a bonus and Curran's team set about making the most of their wind advantage when the game resumed.
They piled on early pressure, and within five minutes full-forward Tom Butler had a point followed by a goal flicked to the net from close range by Hubert Darcy.
Brigid's responded with some breakaway scores, but it was game on once the sides drew level at 2-6 for Pearses to 0-12 for Brigid's with 12 minutes to go. They were again locked together six minutes later. Class and experience came to the fore in that frenetic finishing period with the goals from Kilbride and Donnelly proving to be game-changers.
Scorers - St Brigid's: K Mannion 0-4 (2f); I Kilbride, D Donnelly 1-0 each; D Dolan, G Dolan, B Stack 0-2 each; C Murray, C McHugh, D Sheehy, D Cunniffe 0-1 each. Padraig Pearses: S Fahy 1-3 (2f); H Darcy 1-2 (2f); T Butler, S Dolan 0-1 each
St Brigid's - S Mannion; R Stack, D Donnelly, D Sheehy; N McInerney, I Kilbride, E Sheehy; G Dolan, M Daly; B Stack, D Dolan, C Murray; K Mannion, S Kilbride, C McHugh. Subs: P Kelly for M Daly (41); F Dolan for C McHugh (58); D Cunniffe for D Dolan (60); N Grehan for E Sheehy (60); J McDonnell for K Mannion (60 +2).
Padraig Pearses - A McManus; D Murray, A Butler, M Richardson; C Daly, N Carty, C Og O'Sullivan; N Daly, E Donoghue; S Carty, R Daly, S Dolan; H Darcy, T Butler, S Fahy.
Subs: A Mannion for E Donoghue (b/c 50); C Payne for S Dolan (50); D Glynn for C Óg O'Sullivan (58); P Kelly for N Carty (60 + 2).
Ref - P Daly (Strokestown)