Clifford masterclass drives 'Sem' to Hogan Cup glory
St Brendan's 2-13 St Pat's 2-6
The farewell party for St Pat’s captain Conor Glass fell flat at Croke Park as St Brendan’s of Killarney stormed to a first Hogan Cup crown since 1992.
Hawthorn-bound Glass, playing his last game for St Pat’s, Maghera, was dismissed midway through the second half and St Brendan’s won the remainder of the game by 2-5 to 0-1.
Brendan’s lost their own captain, Dan O’Brien, to a straight red card with five minutes left and while the sides were level at that point, ‘The Sem’ managed 2-2 in the closing minutes to end a 24-year drought.
The famed Killarney nursery had David Clifford to thank for an individual haul of 2-5 and his display drew comparisons with a Kerry legend from manager Gary McGrath at full-time.
Still only 16, Clifford is a star in the making and along with attacking sidekick Dara Moynihan, the pair terrorised the St Pat’s defence.
McGrath agreed: “They were the two key forwards. Dara’s work rate was phenomenal. The two of them have a very bright future. David Clifford reminds me every day at training of no one else but Maurice Fitzgerald. I can see it in him.
“I will be killed for saying it. That is who he reminds me of. I have said it to people on the quiet. I haven’t told him that, but we might tell him tonight.
“He is a big talent. If he is nurtured and looked after, he has a big career in front of him.”
St Brendan’s erased memories of their most recent final defeats of 2008 and 2010 with that storming late finish, as a brace of Clifford goals sealed a third Hogan Cup success.
Meanwhile, St Pat’s joint-manager Paul Hughes struggled to make sense of the red card for Glass that altered the course of the game.
At half-time, St Pat’s were 1-5 to 0-7 in front, Patrick Kearney finding the net three minutes after twin brother Francis saw his penalty brilliantly saved by David Carroll.
Shane McGuigan opened the second-half scoring with a 37th-minute goal for St Pat’s and while Glass didn’t appear to be moving at full throttle, he was still exerting an influence around the middle third.
Referee David Gough took the advice of an umpire on board before flashing red and Hughes said: “I would have to see the video, but it wouldn’t be Conor Glass’s form.
“I would have to see very strong video evidence to believe that Conor Glass done anything. But, the call was made; some calls are good, some calls are bad.
“It’s a huge decision, absolutely huge decision. It’s a massive decision in the game, only the referee can answer that.
“They said he was accused of striking. That’s not Conor Glass, it’s not the Conor Glass I have known for seven years in the school, not the Conor Glass I have known playing MacRory Cup football for three years. It is not what he does.”
Glass, outstanding as captain for Derry in their Ulster minor football championship success last year, wanted to bow out with a bang and Hughes acknowledged: “It’s a cruel end, absolutely.”
Scorers – St Brendan’s: D Clifford 2-5 (2f), D Moynihan 0-4, L O’Donoghue (45), E Cronin, D Shaw & M Casey 0-1 each. St Pat’s: S McGuigan 1-3 (2f), P Kearney 1-0, S Downey, J Doherty & O McWilliams 0-1 each.
St Brendan’s – D Carroll; C Gammell, D O’Brien, C O’Donoghue; N Donohue, D Naughton, M Potts; L O’Donoghue, B Courtney; P McCarthy, D Clifford, D Moynihan; E Cronin, D Shaw, M Casey. Subs: W Courtney for Casey (43), D Spillane for McCarthy (60).
St Pat’s – S Cassidy; O McKeever, P Turner, K Feeney; P McCormick, S Downey, C McAllister; C Glass, J Doherty; P Kearney, P Quigg, O McWilliams; C Darragh, S McGuigan, F Kearney. Sub: F Higgins for Darragh (42).
Ref – D Gough (Meath)