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Brigid's ready to burn 'Wood

HAVING feasted on the great and the good of Dublin football for their second county title after an absorbing, draining six weeks, St Brigid's were treated to a tasty Leinster aperitif in Navan last Sunday.

It wasn't quite a stroll in Páirc Tailteann but as opening forays into a competition packing as many deadly weapons as the provincial championship, their 10-point victory over Summerhill was as accommodating as it could have got.

Those expecting the celebrations of their Dublin success to leave the Russell Park men a little tender were miles off the mark and, in truth, any wear and tear from a grinding bout of wins in Dublin were left unexposed by the Meath champions who could never live with Brigid's power and athleticism.

No doubt, Wexford champions Horeswood represent something of a step up in quality but back in Parnell Park and with the prospect of a semi-final clash with Leinster favourites Portlaoise looming, Brigid's are overwhelming favourites to continue their provincial crusade into the last four.

And rightly so. It takes a doughy, hard-working sort of team to thrive in winter football and Brigid's are precisely that kind of outfit, garnished with a layer of unquestioned quality.

But even the game-changers do their share and the net result is an outfit without an obvious vulnerable spot.

The comparisons with the Dublin senior team are a little easy but hugely valid. Brigid's -- like Dublin -- boast a goalkeeper of exceptional quality, a defence full of tenacious and skillful man-markers, a midfield containing supreme athleticism complemented by a half-forward division with a trojan appetite for work and an inside line as comfortable with winning ball as they are taking scores.

But from back to front, the appetite for work and effective movement in possession is their most appealing characteristic. For their part, Horeswood aren't exactly novices at this level having claimed a fourth Wexford title in six years last month, although they may have to make do without their most recognisable attacker, PJ Bannville, after he picked up an ankle injury.

Their 3-9 to 0-11 victory over Castletown in the Wexford final was, however, something of a surprise but powered by a half-back line including veteran Leigh O'Brien and with Ciarán Deeley orchestrating the attack, they finished up comfortable winners.

Another point of attack that day was their midfield of Thomas Howlin and Paddy Murphy, but we'll make a bold prediction now that no club team in Ireland right now can match the Brigid's pairing of Barry Cahill and John O'Loughlin.

Their merits -- and those of Paddy Andrews, Shane Supple, Martin Cahill, Graham Norton, Seán Murray and Philly Ryan -- are well known but the likes of Alan Daly, Kevin Kilmurray and Gavin Kane have been equally effective. Brigid's strengths now seem to be their unflinching work-rate and self-belief. Quite how far those qualities take Brigid's is as yet, hard to say. But we're sure they'll suffice tomorrow.

ODDS: St Brigid's 1/12, Draw 12/1, Horeswood 15/2

VERDICT: St Brigid's


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