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Lorcan lords it for brigid's

A little under two years ago, St Brigid's were in Division 2 of Dublin's AFL and seemingly in a state of disrepair with the glory years of the earlier part of the last decade passed.

Now, they're Evening Herald Dublin SFC champions after a typically gruelling and committed 0-10 to 0-8 victory over their nearest and dearest of neighbours, St Oliver Plunkett's/ER, in front of a hefty throng of spectators in Parnell Park yesterday.

Just a mile separate the clubs' respective bases but the mood across the Navan Road last night couldn't have been much more disparate.

The Plunkett's trophy case remains unadorned by a senior county title. Brigid's, meanwhile, have claimed a second, eight years on from their first and less than a couple of seasons after it looked like their best days were behind them.

A classic it was not. And Brigid's seemed far more comfortable with the stagnant, edgy nature of the proceedings. They have the boot of Lorcan McCarthy largely to thank for their victory -- a win which adds further mystique to their apparent championship hoodoo over Plunkett's.

On 45 minutes, McCarthy was dispatched from the bench to replace the out-of-sorts Philly Ryan. His first touch was a 48-metre free which sailed sweetly between the sticks.

McCarthy added another from play nine minutes later after Plunkett's had gone back level at six points apiece. At a time when scores were at such a premium, they were celebrated from the stands as if potential match-winners. McCarthy repeated his dead-ball heroics just two minutes later from an equally prohibitive distance to spark a trio of scores including one each from Ken Darcy and Odhran McCann -- a run which effectively won Brigid's the title.

Yet it says it all about yesterday's fraught final that the two most significant contributions to the game were the three-point haul from Brigid's super sub and a brilliant goal-saving block with just five minutes left from Gavin Kane to stop Alan Brogan.

It was the sort of day that Plunkett's dread but have become horribly accustomed to in their championship exits of recent years.

"We didn't score enough to win," sighed Plunkett's manager, Mick Galvin afterwards. "That's that."

Little surprise then, that the Brigid's success was built on their brilliant defence, which started in midfield with Barry Cahill and John O'Loughlin, was aided and abetted by the deep-lying Craig Kimurray and backed-up by the immense Shane Supple in goals, whose razor-sharp reflexes and creative distribution must now mark him as a Dublin goalkeeper of the not-too-distant future.

O'Loughlin charged forward with greater intelligence than in previous matches while Cahill's classy touches were again in abundance. Up front, Paddy Andrews might not have scored but his calm and smart use of possession led to plenty of what was good about Brigid's attacking play.

If anyone was going to stop Brigid's winning, though, it was most likely Alan Brogan, who kicked three points and dazzled all with his pace and creativity.

Apart from the Footballer of the Year, though, Plunkett's got little change from anywhere else across the Brigid's full-frontal defence.

And as with last year's semi-final, Bernard Brogan's influence was massively subdued by a Trojan, expert Brigid's defensive effort.

Going into the game, Brogan had amassed 2-20 in three championship.

Whereas Peadar Andrews put the shackles on the golden boy of Dublin football a year ago, yesterday his county team mate, Seán Murray banished the memories of a rough ride from Ballymun Kickhams a week ago to perform a superb marking job on the former Footballer of the Year.

"If it doesn't happen for Bernard Brogan and he doesn't score, what do you do?," pondered Galvin.

"Do you take him off? He knows what to do. He had a bad day at the office today. We're not going to hang him out to dry or anything like that. We've all been there as footballers."

St Brigid's co-manager, Gerry McEntee, naturally had a different way of assessing the relative muting of one of Ireland's top marksmen.

"I think Seánie Murray had a brilliant game on Bernard Brogan," he gushed. "He still got some scores but he had a brilliant game on him.

"Alan Brogan was dangerous but Norto (Graham Norton) seemed to be in control of Jason Sherlock."

Asked whether he had been hesitant in awarding the onerous task to Murray after his semi-final troubles, McEntee was stoic.

"None. Seán ... if anyone knows Bernard Brogan, it's Seán -- from training with the Dublin team. Seán is a very committed fella and has got great character. We knew if we gave him the job, he would do it to the best of his ability. (But) we didn't know if that was going to be good enough or not."

Murray's performance was the alkaline to Brogan's attacking acid, but the intervention of Kane in blocking Alan for what would have been a certain goal with five minutes to go won't be quickly forgotten on the Navan Road -- either end.

"Magnificent. Gavin Kane -- small man, huge heart," gushed McEntee on a huge day for his team.


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