CASTLEBAR Mitchels ended the reign of Roscommon's St Brigid's as Connacht and All-Ireland champions at Dr Hyde Park yesterday, with the Mayo men triumphing 3-13 to 2-12 after a pulsating 80-minute encounter in the Connacht Club SFC final.
The champs were five points up at half-time, 1-6 to 1-1, but Mitchels roared back to lead by the same margin midway through the second half, powered by a penalty from Neil Douglas and a flicked goal from Richie Feeney.
A Richie Blaine goal for St Brigid's turned the tide back in favour of the Roscommon club and they led by two, 2-11 to 3-6, entering injury-time at the end of the hour. However, on a day when referee Marty Duffy dominated proceedings with four red cards – he twice gave critical calls in favour of the Mayo club, first overturning a line ball and then awarding a controversial last-minute free to Castlebar to send the game to extra-time.
Brigid's Darragh Donnelly and Richie Blaine both saw red in extra-time as the younger legs of the Castlebar club ran riot.
Mitchels' Barry Moran was the first player to be sent off, in the 37th minute, when Duffy deemed that his body check on Gearóid Cunniffe was worthy of a straight red card.
Then, late on, Duffy over-ruled his linesman to award a sideline to Castlebar, before giving a free and a second yellow card against Ian Kilbride for a seemingly innocuous challenge; both led to points for Mitchels. That left the score 3-8 to 2-11 after the hour's play.
Donnelly was next to leave the field in the second minute of added time. He was shown a second yellow for dangerous play. Blaine was also dismissed to make matters worse for the Saints. Points from James Durcan and Cian Costello in the second period were enough to round off a fantastic day for Pat Holmes' men.
LIMERICK'S Na Piarsaigh picked up their second Munster Club SHC hurling title in three years after rampant display gave them a 4-14 to 0-8 win over Sixmilebridge.
Two goals in the first minute of each half from Kevin Downes and Kevin Ryan at Cusack Park meant the Clare champions were rattled from the off, but the victory was secured 15 minutes from time when Adrian Breen hit a third goal.
And substitute David Sheppard put the gloss on the win with a fourth goal for the Limerick city side when he robbed Sixmilebridge goalkeeper Derek Fahy a minute from time.
YET another of the surviving links to Tyrone's first All-Ireland win of 2003 has retired after goalkeeper Pascal McConnell became the latest to hang up his inter-county boots.
McConnell started between the sticks for both their 2005 and '08 All-Ireland triumphs, beginning on the bench on 2003.
McConnell, whose brother Finbarr also kept goals for Tyrone, also won an All-Ireland minor title in 1998 and Under 21 medals in 2000 and 2001.