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Brigid's into final after Nemo shock

There was drama galore at Limerick's Gaelic Grounds when St Brigid's qualified for their first ever All-Ireland senior football club final in a tense contest in which Munster champions Nemo Rangers finished with 13 players.

Nemo could manage only three points in the entire second half, two of them frees by James Masters. The first sending off was of major significance when David Niblock was sent off for a second yellow for a clumsy tackle, while the dismissal on a straight red for Aiden O'Reilly in stoppage-time made no difference to the outcome.

Wing-back Gearoid Cunniffe roamed upfield with three minutes left to edge St Brigid's in front, and to make sure, man of the match Senan Kilbride put over an insurance free.

The outcome looked far different with only three minutes left when the Cork side led by a point, but the task of playing with 14 men for all but six minutes of the second half took its toll.

It was a dogged win for St Brigid's, who relished their success as their players and fans remained on the pitch to give each player a rousing reception.

Kilbride made a bright start but hit two wides, and a free by a Masters free put Nemo ahead. Kilbride tied it up with a free and while St Brigid's continued to dominate, they could only manage a fine point by Karol Mannion.

But the game took a crucial and fortunate twist for Nemo after 12 minutes. Masters slipped as he took a sideline kick and the ball floated into the Nemo square where a grateful Sean O'Brien belted past Philip Martin.

It was level again a minute later when Darren Dolan curled over a beautiful point.

The first half was all about the missed St Brigid's chances and the accuracy of Masters from frees for Nemo. When Paul Kerrigan was wide with a free way out on the touchline minutes into the second half, it gave St Brigid's new confidence and they took an overhead punched point by Eoin Sheehy.

The sending off of Niblock did not have an immediate effect on Nemo, who scored through another free by Masters, but gradually the winners got on top.

They retained possession well in those helter-skelter closing minutes, which helped them win a couple of crucial frees around midfield, and though substitute Alan Cronin had Nemo 1-8 to 0-10 in front with six minutes remaining, Cunniffe and Kilbride wrapped up a memorable triumph.

McBride scored six points, three superb efforts from play, and three frees, and while Masters had six frees for Nemo, a couple of misses either side of half-time proved crucial. Nemo also hit a post late on, but it wasn't their day.

Scorers -- St Brigid's: S Kilbride 0-6 (3f), I Kilbride, G Cunniffe, K Mannion, G Dolan, D Dolan, F Dolan, E Sheehy 0-1 each. Nemo Rangers: J Master 0-6 (all frees), S O'Brien 1-0, B O'Driscoll and A Morgan 0-1 each.

St Brigid's: P Martin; R Kelly, D Donnelly, D sheehy; I Kilbride, P Domican, G Cunniffe; G Dolan, K Mannion; E Sheehy, C McHugh, D Dolan; D O'Connor, S Kilbride, F Dolan. Sub: D Kelleher for O'Connor.

Nemo Rangers: B Morgan; C O'Shea, D Kavanagh, A O'Reilly; C O'Brien, B O'Regan, D Breen; D Niblock, P Morgan; A Cronin, P Kerrigan, B O'Driscoll; J Masters, S O'Brien, D Kearney. Subs: D Meighen for O'Brien 41, W Morgan for O'Brien 51, A Morgan for O'Driscoll 65.

Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).

Sunday Indo Sport