Crossmaglen's experience to prove the difference
Published 17/03/2011 | 05:00
All-ireland SFc club final
Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh) v St Brigid's (Roscommon), Croke Park, 3.45, Ref: C Reilly (Meath). Live TG4
The contrast is great in terms of game experience as Crossmaglen, four-time All-Ireland winners since 1997, face up to first-time finalists St Brigid's, representing a county whose champions have never won the title.
It explains why Crossmaglen are such hot favourites to enjoy another great St Patrick's Day in Croke Park, but it disregards a number of positives which St Brigid's will expect to harness.
They showed remarkable resilience to rescue themselves in stoppage-time in the Connacht final against Killererin with an equalising goal before sprinting on to win by seven points in extra-time.
They were similarly defiant in the All-Ireland semi-final, kicking three late points to beat Nemo Rangers by two. And then there's the memory of their semi-final clash with Crossmaglen in 2007, when they lost by three points after conceding an early goal.
It all points to a club that is well entitled to take its chance on the big day. There's a nice balance to the side, while the individual flair of Karol Mannion, Frankie Dolan, Senan and Ian Kilbride and Peter Domican was also influential in the advance to the final.
Crossmaglen had their eye on a return to Croke Park since watching St Gall's fly the Ulster flag successfully last year and they laid down an early marker by dethroning the Antrim men last October.
They were later pushed to the limit by Burren, but eventually saw the Ulster project through to a successful conclusion.
However, it was the manner in which they twice came from six points down to beat Kilmacud Crokes in the All-Ireland semi-final, which suggested that a squad featuring the four Kernan brothers, Paul Hearty, Oisin McConville, Jamie Clarke, Francie Bellew and John McEntee were as driven as ever. St Brigid's will match them in that area but will probably still come up just short.
Ulster c'ship: Crossmaglen 1-12 St Gall's (Antrim) 0-9; Crossmaglen 1-11 Burren (Down) 2-7.
Ulster c'ship final: Crossmaglen 2-9 Naomh Conaill (Donegal) 0-10.
All-Ireland quarter-final: Crossmaglen 1-8 Neasden Gaels (London) 0-5.
All-Ireland semi-final: Crossmaglen 2-11 Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 1-12.
Average for: 1-12; Average against: 0-11.
Top scorer: Oisin McConville 2-20.
Connacht c'ship: St Brigid's 0-21 Eastern Harps (Sligo) 0-4; St Brigid's 1-13 Glencar-Manorhamilton (Leitrim) 3-5.
Connacht c'ship final: St Brigid's 2-14 Killererin (Galway) 1-10 (after extra-time).
All-Ireland semi-final: St Brigid's 0-13 Nemo Rangers (Cork) 1-8.
Average for: 1-15; Average against: 1-8.
Top scorer: Senan Kilbride 1-15.
Odds: Crossmaglen 8/15; St.Brigid's 2/1; Draw 8/1.